LINGUIST List 14.2712

Wed Oct 8 2003

Books: Discourse Analysis, Mandarin: Liu

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  1. lincom.europa, A Profile of the Mandarin NP: Liu

Message 1: A Profile of the Mandarin NP: Liu

Date: Tue, 07 Oct 2003 14:33:45 +0000
From: lincom.europa <>
Subject: A Profile of the Mandarin NP: Liu

Title: A Profile of the Mandarin NP
Subtitle: Possessive Phrases & Classifier Phrases in Spoken Discourse
Series Title: LINCOM Studies in Asian Linguistics 53
Publication Year: 2003
Publisher: Lincom GmbH,		 
Author: Hsin-Yun Liu, University of Cologne 
Paperback: ISBN: 3895867284, Pages: 300, Price: EUR 66


This empirical study investigates complex Mandarin noun phrases in
actual spoken discourse, with special emphasis on the adnominal
possessive phrases and the classifier phrases. In investigating the
structure of the Mandarin noun phrase, the author finds that there are
two highly interesting phenomena which merit special attention: the
functional behavior of the particle de in adnominal phrases and the
use of classifiers. The particle de is observed to play a crucial role
in the syntactic configuration of the Mandarin NP: apart from
connecting two elements together, it can occur with all the possible
modifying elements and makes explicit the modification relationship
such an element bears to the head noun in a complex NP. The use of the
classifier turns out to be the most conspicuous typological feature of
Mandarin. In view of their significance, the phenomena involving the
particle de and the classifier will be scrutinized in Chapters Two and
Three, respectively. With regard to the adnominal possessive
construction, there is a general consensus in Chinese linguistics
about the linking function of the particle de. Given that the presence
of this particle in adnominal constructions is not obligatory, some
analyses thus hint at a possible correlation between the
omission/non-use of the particle de and inalienbility (cf. Dragunov
1960; Chao 1968; Li and Thompson 1981), possible factors triggering
the presence or absence of the particle de in actual spoken discourse
are, however, never surveyed. 

It is Chappell and Thompson (1992) who first inquire into this
question. They conduct a survey on a corpus consisting of both spoken
and written texts and arrive at the conclusion that the use or
omission of the particle de is determined by a number of convergent
factors. Based on their findings, Liu will explore further the
relevant factors determining the use or omission of the particle de in
a pure spoken discourse. This is the main task of Chapter Two. In
addition, issues concerning to what extent the notion of
"inalienability" is relevant to the adnominal possessive phrase, as
well as how this notion is expressed in Mandarin, will also be
investigated in this chapter. Due to the isolating morphological
character of Mandarin, grammatical categories such as gender and case
are irrelevant for the NP. Issues on number, by contrast, turn out to
be of most importance and relevance. Indeed it is precisely the unique
behavior of the NP in relation to number expression which is
characteristic of the Mandarin NP, i.e., the use of the classifier. A
survey of this phenomenon will be the main task of Chapter Three. In
order to express the notion of quantification, Mandarin Chinese draws
on the use of classifiers. In Chinese linguistics, however,
classifiers are not defined clearly enough. Traditionally, these are
construed as an obligatory syntactic constituent occurring between a
numeral and a head noun in a quantifying construction. However, not
only classifiers but also measures can occur in the same syntactic
slot. Moreover, it is very often the case that either no clear
distinction between classifiers and measures is drawn (cf. Li and
Thompson 1981), or this category is simply construed as a
classifier-measure dichotomy (cf. Dragunov 1960), or subclasses of
this category are established solely on semantic grounds (cf. Chao

(to be continued in the LINCOM webshop:

Lingfield(s): Asian languages (General Linguistics)
		Discourse Analysis	
Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (Language Code: CHN)

Written In: English (Language Code: ENG)

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