From the above analysis of the meaning and usage of apology words, it can be seen that every Chinese apology word could be used as a construction. The process of acquiring it is how learners build a library of apology words psychologically through cognition. In this process, learners need to understand the different meanings of various apology words and obtain the cognitive awareness of the cooperative mode of apology words. This awareness of the grasp and application of apology words in the acquisition process is called "construction awareness" by Shi (2011), which is mainly reflected in the "coordination awareness" of apology words. The externalized expression of "coordination awareness" is the output of the learner. Therefore, the learner's process of mastering the "coordination awareness" of the construction of apology words could be recognized by examining the output.
Errors in verbal apology words
Among the errors in verbal apology words, there are four types in the quasi-binary targeted verbs: wrong cooperative mode selection, out-of-order coordination components, incomplete coordination components, and misuse of coordination components. The wrong cooperative mode selection means that the non-framed construction "NP1+___+NP2" should have been selected, but other coordination forms were misused. The out-of-order coordination components mean that the position of the coordination sentence components is wrong. Incomplete coordination components refer to the lack and omission of coordination components. Misuse of the coordination component refers to the wrong choice of the coordination component. For example,
1. *我道歉我的母亲。 (I apologize to my mother.)
2. *我道歉向你。 (I apologize to you.)
3. *发生过的事, 我们很后悔。 (We regret what happened.)
4. *我向自己的抱怨感到自责。 (I feel guilty for my complaints.)
5. *我对您们真诚道歉。 (I sincerely apologize to you.)
Example (1) is an error in the cooperative mode selection. "道歉 (apologize)" is a quasi-binary targeted verb, but the learner misuses the framed cooperative mode instead of the non-framed one. Example (2) belongs to the out-of-order coordination components, and the argument NP2 guided by the preposition should be placed before the words of apology. Examples (3) and (4) are incomplete coordination components and lack the propositions “对 (for)” or “对于 (for)”. Example (5) belongs to the misuse of coordination components, that is, the misuse of prepositions.
There are three types of errors in the true binary targeted verbs: incorrect cooperative mode selection, incomplete coordination component, and out-of-order coordination component. For example,
6. *那时候应该给您们写信但我没写信, 对您们对不起。 (I should have written to you at that time, but I did not write, I am sorry.)
7. *可是她也觉得向我对不起一点。 (However, she also feels sorry towards me.)
8. *我觉得太对不起, 你们了解吧。 (I feel so sorry, please understand.)
9. *我的同屋是研究生, 她正在写论文, 不过常常帮助我学习, 所以我对不起。 (My roommate is a graduate student. She is writing a thesis, but she often helps me with my studies, so I'm sorry.)
10. *吸烟对健康百害无益, 而且在公共场所里吸烟是别人对不起的事。 (Smoking is not good for one’s health, and smoking in public places is something that others should be sorry for.)
Since the learners do not grasp that "对不起 (sorry)" should be the true binary targeted verb, the cooperative modes in Example (6) and Example (7) are both misused as framed coordinations instead. Prepositions are used to guide arguments, which proves that learners do not understand and are uncertain of the cooperative modes of the apology word. In Example (8) and Example (9), the learner's choice of cooperative mode is correct, but it ignores the fact that the agents in the omitted form of the true binary targeted verbs can be ignored, but the objects cannot. Therefore, the cooperative mode is incomplete. The cooperative mode of Example (10) is also correct, but there is a problem with the order of the components.
Errors with adjective apology words
The errors in adjective apology words are mainly with the use of binary adjectives, including three types: cooperative mode selection error, out-of-order coordination components, and incomplete coordination components. For example,
1. *抱歉你。 (I am sorry to you)
2. *所以很内疚他。 (So he is guilty.)
3. *妈妈遗憾这件事。 (Mom regrets it.)
4. *这就是我对他感到内疚。 (That is why I feel guilty about him.)
5. *真不好意思对吸烟这件事。 (I'm sorry about the smoking.)
6. *抱歉我! (I am sorry.)
Examples (1) and (3) are cooperative mode selection errors. The framed coordination component should be used instead of the non-framed coordination component. Example (4) belongs to the incomplete coordination category and lacks an object. Examples (5) and (6) belong to the wrong order of the coordination components. Example (5) should put the preposition and its leading arguments before the apology word. The position of the coordination component in Example (6) should be interchanged with "我抱歉 (I'm sorry)".
Errors with nominal apology words
The errors made with nominal apology words include two types: cooperative mode selection errors and incomplete coordination components. For example,
1. *我歉意你们。 (I apologize to you.)
2. *他们认为没有添别人麻烦。 (They think that they have not caused others trouble.)
3. *不要添麻烦别人。 (Do not bother others.)
4. *我经常给您一些麻烦。 (I often give you some trouble.)
Examples (1) to (3) are errors in the cooperative mode selection. Framed coordination should have been selected, but non-framed coordination was misused. Example (4) belongs to the incomplete coordination component, that is, the verb is missing, and the verb "添 (add)" should be added to form "添麻烦 (to add trouble)".
Correct output of verbs, adjectives, and nominal apology words
The correct output situation includes choosing the correct cooperative mode, ensuring the coordination component is not incomplete or misused, and verifying the coordination component sequence is correct. The correct use cases of verbal apology words are divided into true binary targeted verbs and quasi-binary targeted verbs. The first 10 are the true binary targeted verbs in the following corpus, and the last 5 are the quasi-binary targeted verbs. Examples (1) to (6) are complete coordination forms, and Examples (7) to (15) are omitted coordination forms.
I feel very sorry towards my parents.
2) 但是这都是我心中的话, 请你们原谅我。
However, these are the words in my heart. Please forgive me.
I feel that I have failed my parents' expectations of me.
Please forgive me.
5) 绝不能用强硬的态度对待晚辈, 以免使他们因我们的错误踏进歧路而后悔。
Never use an overbearing attitude toward juniors so as not to make them regret our mistakes.
We apologize for the confusion.
7) 打扰他的工作, 真是不好意思。
I am sorry to interrupt his work.
Now recalling the past, I feel that I have failed my father’s expectations of me.
Please forgive me.
12) 实在没时间写信, 希望爸妈谅解。
I truly do not have time to write a letter; I hope my parents will understand.
13) 遇到挫折时, 我就开始自责。
When encountering setbacks, I start to blame myself.
14) 我很对不起你们, 而且很后悔。
I apologize for you, and I regret it.
I have always blamed myself.
The correct output of adjective apology words and nominal apology words are as follows. Among them, examples (16) to (20) are complete coordination forms, and examples (21) to (24) are omitted coordination forms.
Many older adults feel very disturbed by this reality.
17) 我作为一个吸烟者, 对此感到十分惭愧。
As a smoker, I am very ashamed of this.
I can only feel deep regret towards these people.
I apologize for this error.
20) 那时我真的很内疚, 我实在太过分了。
I was guilty at that time; I was too much.
22) 但是, 我错了。
However, I was wrong.
When I was young, I caused much trouble for my parents.
In summary, learners have an orderly process for the acquisition of apology words. Learners need to continuously construct and improve the library of apology words to form a complete conscious construction to use them freely in communication.