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Studies of Chinese Linguistics

Studies of Chinese Linguistics: Functional Approaches

Edited by Janet Zhiqun Xing
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Studies of Chinese Linguistics
    Book Description:

    The nine essays in this volume present the most recent developments in the study of Chinese linguistic research using functional approaches. Topics discussed in the volume include Chinese typology, word order variation, word formation, semantic change, cognition, discourse analysis, interface among syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, and grammaticalization. Studies of Chinese Linguistics will be a valuable and stimulating reference for graduate students and researchers interested in functional linguistics. Readers in general and applied linguistics will also appreciate the insights it offers into the interaction of Chinese form and function.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-543-7
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Janet Zhiqun Xing

    The aim of this book is to gather the most recent studies of Chinese linguistics within the framework of functionalism. Although the term “functionalism” can apply to a wider range of studies, the current volume limits its scope to Chinese typology, morphology, semantics, syntax, and discourse. Two central questions are repeatedly raised by the contributors of this book: (1) What function does a linguistic form—be it word, sentence or discourse—serve in communication? (2) Does Chinese behave the same or differently than other languages (especially those genetically unrelated to Chinese) and, if so, how and why? Through the discussions...

  6. Section 1: Typological Studies

    • 1 Chinese as a topic-comment (not topic-prominent and not SVO) language
      (pp. 9-22)
      Randy J. LaPolla

      Many linguists in China and the West have talked about Chinese as a topic-comment language, that is, a language in which the structure of the clause takes the form of a topic, about which something is to be said, and a comment, which is what is said about the topic, rather than being a language with a subject-predicate structure like that of English. Y. R. Chao (1968), for example, said that all Chinese clauses have topic-comment structure and there are no exceptions. The fact that some of these linguists, e.g. Y. R. Chao (1968) and Lü Shuxiang (1979: 70–73),...

    • 2 The placement of Chinese adverbials revisited: What differentiates Chinese word order from other SVO languages
      (pp. 23-44)
      Bingfu Lu and Xiaozhou Wu

      Among the world’s 449 languages surveyed by Dryer and Gensle (Dryer and Gensle 2005: 342–344), only three VO languages normally put all obliques before the verb, as shown in Table 2.1 below. The three VO languages are Mandarin, Hakka and Cantonese, all belonging to Chinese.

      In Table 2.1, according to the authors’ definition, X is “a noun phrase or adpositional phrase that functions as an adverbial modifier, or adjunct of the verb.” In other words, X is a nominal adverbial.

      Chinese does have some post-verbal obliques, such as duration and frequency expressions. However, in Chinese syntax, the units that...

  7. Section 2: Word Structures and Cognitive Grammar

    • 3 Minimal word and its function in Mandarin Chinese
      (pp. 47-64)
      Shengli Feng

      The notion of Minimal Word (MinWd) has always been a fundamental concept in the Prosodic-Morphological systems developed since McCarthy and Prince (1990). It is a prosodically circumscribed domain which may be selected as the locus of morphological transformation in lieu of the whole domain (McCarthy and Prince 1990, 1993, 1998). Theoretically, the notion of MinWd is derived from the interaction of both Prosodic Hierarchy and Foot Binarity, as stated in the following (taken from McCarthy and Prince 1998: 284):

      The Prosodic Hierarchy impinges on every prosodic word to contain at least one foot, while the Foot Binarity demands that every...

    • 4 Path of motion: Conceptual structure and representation in Chinese
      (pp. 65-84)
      Chengzhi Chu

      With the understanding that language is an experientially-based product of the human mind as well as a reflection of how speakers of a language structure the perceptions of reality, this chapter presents a characterization of the conceptual structure for Path of motion events and illustrates how the conceptualization of Path of motion is represented in Mandarin Chinese. Path is the route followed by the moving object (i.e., Figure) in a motion event with respect to the reference objects (i.e., Ground) (Talmy 1985; Chu 2008). For motion conceptualization and representation, Path is the central and defining property. In human cognition, Path...

  8. Section 3: Semantics, Pragmatics, and Their Interaction

    • 5 Semantics and pragmatics of color terms in Chinese
      (pp. 87-102)
      Janet Zhiqun Xing

      Two competing accounts have emerged to explain the reason why color terms follow the same evolutionary sequence discovered by Berlin and Kay (1969): one led by Kay and McDaniel (1978: 617) who claim that the semantics of basic color terms in all languages are the results of a common set of neurophysiological processes in which differences in wavelengths of light reaching the eye are transformed into response differences in the visual nervous systems, while the other, led by Wierzbicka (1990) opposes Kay and McDaniel’s claim and suggests that color concepts are anchored in certain universal identifiable human experiences, such as...

    • 6 Aspect and the post-verbal zài phrase in Mandarin Chinese
      (pp. 103-130)
      Feng-hsi Liu

      The locative phrase in Chinese is headed by the preposition zài, and it can occur in three positions in a sentence: before the subject, after the subject but before the verb, and after the verb, as illustrated in (1).

      (1) a. 在这儿你可以买到各式各样的东西

      zài zhèr nǐ kěyǐ mǎidào gèshìgèyàng de dōngxī

      at here you can buy all-kinds NOM things¹

      “You can buy all sorts of things here.”

      b. 我在外头等他等了他半天

      Wǒ zài wàitou děng tā děng-le bàntiān

      I at outside wait him wait-PERF long-time

      “I waited for him outside for a long time.”

      c. 雨水打在窗戶上

      Yǔshuǐ dǎ zài chuānghùshang

      rain hit at...

  9. Section 4: Discourse Analysis

    • 7 Locative particles in spoken Taiwan Mandarin
      (pp. 133-154)
      Yung-O Biq

      This chapter examines the choice of simple or complex locative particles in Mandarin speech. Except for nouns that are intrinsic place names (e.g., 台灣táiwān “Taiwan”) or those that have been conventionally taken as place names (e.g., 飞机场fēijīchăng “airport”) (cf. discussion in Chu 1997), Mandarin grammar requires that in order to become a place term referring to location, the noun (or NP) needs to be followed by (a) a spatial orientation term such as shàng, qián, lǐ, etc. (or equivalent), and (b) an optional suffix, i.e., -面 miàn, -头 tóu, or -边 biān.¹ Traditionally, when (a) is present without (b),...

    • 8 From volition and enjoyment to habituality: The cases of ài “love to” and xǐhuan “like to”
      (pp. 155-184)
      Tomoko Endo and Hongyin Tao

      In Mandarin Chinese there are a cluster of lexical items that express the meanings of volition and enjoyment, i.e., “like to” and “love to.” Some of the commonly seen lexemes include 偏愛 piān’ài “favor, prefer to,” 喜愛 xǐ’ài “like to,” 好 hào “like to,” 愛好 àihào “fond of,” 喜好 xǐhào “like to,” 喜歡 xǐhuan “like to,” and 愛 ài “love to.” However, the focus of this chapter is not on the lexical semantics of liking and loving per se, but rather on the grammatical properties of complement taking and auxiliation and their relations. Specifically, we investigate the ways in which...

    • 9 One mechanism, two changes in Mandarin Chinese
      (pp. 185-204)
      Liang Tao

      This chapter presents findings of syntactic changes that support the view that grammar is shaped through everyday language usage. Specifically, the study presents findings of two syntactic changes in the singular noun phrase pattern (hereafter, NP pattern) yi35ge51+Noun: one + classifier + Noun in Mandarin Chinese. By analyzing corpus data of both diachronic records of vernacular Chinese and recent recordings of Beijing Mandarin conversations, the study proposes that the two changes have come out of the same mechanism: everyday usage of language. The study proposes two interrelated hypotheses: (1) classifiers may not be obligatory in a numeral NP in Mandarin...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 205-218)
  11. References
    (pp. 219-232)
  12. Index
    (pp. 233-235)