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LINGUIST List 23.1693

Mon Apr 02 2012

Diss: Chinese/Historical Ling/Pragmatics/Syntax: LaPolla: 'Grammatical Relations in Chinese: Synchronic and diachronic considerations'

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Date: 29-Mar-2012
From: Randy LaPolla <randy.lapollagmail.com>
Subject: Grammatical Relations in Chinese: Synchronic and diachronic considerations
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Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 1990

Author: Randy J. LaPolla

Dissertation Title: Grammatical Relations in Chinese: Synchronic and diachronic considerations

Dissertation URL: http://victoria.linguistlist.org/~lapolla//rjlapolla/papers/LaPolla_Dissertation.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)
Language Family(ies): Sino-Tibetan

Dissertation Director:
Robert D Van Valin
James A. Matisoff
Johanna Nichols

Dissertation Abstract:

The bulk of this dissertation is an analysis of grammatical relations (including syntactic, pragmatic, and semantic relations) in Modern Mandarin Chinese. In Chapter I the background, functional framework, and concepts used in the dissertation are introduced. In Chapter II it is shown that Chinese has not grammaticalized the syntactic functions 'subject' and 'object', and has no syntactic function-changing passive construction. In Chapter III the nature of word order and its relationship to information structure in Chinese is examined. It is argued that word order in Chinese does not mark 'definite' and 'indefinite' NPs, as is commonly assumed, but marks information structure. A number of marked focus structure constructions are also discussed. In Chapter IV the discussion is of the structure of Chinese discourse, developed from an analysis of the nature of discourse referent tracking. It is shown that recovery of anaphora is not based on syntactic functions, but is based on real world knowledge (semantics and pragmatics) and discourse structure. Chapter V gives the conclusions, followed by a discussion of some of the diachronic considerations that arose in the course of this investigation. It is suggested that
within Sino-Tibetan, Chinese should be seen as an innovator in terms of word order, and that grammatical relations in Proto-Sino-Tibetan should be seen to be pragmatically based rather than syntactically based.

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