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Abstracts Section A: Linguistics and Languages (classical and modern)

OVERVIEW

 
A1: Language History and History of Languages (Schedule)

Masini, Federico (chair)

Behr, Wolfgang: What's in a Pre-Qin Name, Again

Klöter, Henning: Missionary Linguistics in the 17th Century: The Case of Southern Min

Di Toro, Anna: An Analysis of the 'Kitajskaja grammatika' by N. Ja. Bičurin (1777-1853)

Romagnoli, Chiara: The Interpretation of Saussure's "Course in General Linguistics" in China after 1985

 
A2: Historical Syntax and Grammaticalization (Schedule)

Peyraube, Alain (chair)

Statu, Nicolae Cristian: Parsing Mengzi: An Empirical Study of the Syntax of Classical Chinese

Chao, Fang-yi: The Establishment of the Verbal Classifier System in the Chinese Language

Chen, Yin-ling: On the Grammaticalization of the Mandarin Verb YAO

 
A3: Mandarin Syntax and Pragmatics (Schedule)

Klöter, Henning (chair)

Alleton, Viviane: L'expression de la subjectivité en chinois mandarin : le verbe auxiliaire yao

Iljic, Robert: Issues in modality: chinese hui

Hsiung, Hui-ju: Time Is A River: The Conceptual Metaphors Of Time In Mandarin Chinese

Del Gobbo, Francesca: On Chinese Relative Clauses and the Restrictive vs. Descriptive Distinction

Petrovcic, Mateja: The particle de in Chinese noun phrases with several attributive

 
A4: Language Corpora and their Use (Schedule)

Alleton, Viviane (chair)

Hu, Xiaoling, Nigel Williamson, Jamie McLaughlin: Chinese Texts in Electronic Form for Linguistic Analysis Project

Jiang, Ping: A Corpus-Based Investigation of 3-tone Systems across Chinese Dialects

Kadar, Zoltan Daniel: The Powerful and the Powerless - A socio-pragmatic analysis of Chinese polite self-denigrating/speech-partner-elevating addressing

 

ABSTRACTS

 
A1: Language History and History of Languages

Masini, Federico (chair)

Behr, Wolfgang: What's in a pre-Qin name, again

Late Imperial and modern studies of pre-Qin Chinese clan, family, and personal names have centered on historical, anthropological, sociological and philosophical issues, revolving around familiar naming practices, lineage construction, seniority hierarchies and clan interrelationships, social or ethnic alterity discourses, and, of course, naming taboos (for overviews see Zhou Fagao 1958, Bauer 1959, Goldin 2000). Linguistic approaches to the topic have so far mainly catered to sociolinguistic interests (Zhu & Millward 1980, Sung 1981), including gender studies, or tapped personal name distributions as an independent anthropogeographical body of data to be matched against results obtained by molecular population genetics and historical linguistics (Du Ruofu 1990, 1992; Feng Shi 1997). Apart from its employment as an assessment tool for phonetically based naming taboos, phonological properties of personal names have by and large been neglected, althoug they offer a wealth of insights into pre-Qin history, society and thought.
Proceeding from observations in a recent article by Fu Dingmiao ("Shanggu renming de yiyun guanxi", Qiannan Minzu Shifan Xueyuan Xuebao 2.2002, pp. 8-13) I will show on the basis of data culled from pre-Qin eidted sources (cf. Zhou Fagao 1958, Pan Ying 1993), and from Zhou bronze inscriptions (Wu Zhenfeng 1987), that a wide range of phonological correlation types (by rhyme, alliteration, assonance, consonance, syllable type harmony of differenet subtypes) occurs. These correlation techniques functionally target
(a) personal name constituents
(b) family/clan name -- personal name relationships
(c) relative names, especially sibling association
(d) taboo practices.
A very important phenomenon encountered in all these four categories is correspondance of (disyllabic) allegro and (mono- or sesquisyllabic) lento forms obtaining between the name elements to be associated.
After discussion of illustrative examples for all types and a preliminary stastistical overview of the data, I will comment on clues encoded by such practices for the (re)reading of Early Chinese edited texts. If time permits, I will finally show how these phenomena might be integrated as test evidence for several moot questions in Old Chinese phonology (such as A/B syllalble type prosodies, initial consonant clusters, detection of loanwords etc.).

Klöter, Henning: Missionary Linguistics in the 17th century: The Case of Southern Min

In the late 16th century, Spanish Dominicans started missionary work among Chinese immigrants in the Philippines, most of whom spoke a Zhangzhou variety of the Southern Min group of dialects. The missionaries’ philological activities were not only restricted to the translation of the Christian doctrine into the native tongue of the immigrants, but also included the compilation of manuscript dictionaries and grammars. Predating the first Chinese accounts by 200 years, these manuscripts are by far the earliest extant descriptions of early Southern Min pronunciation, vocabulary, and syntax. They also provide invaluable information about early popular conventions of writing the Southern Min vernacular with Chinese characters.

The paper will first provide a brief inventory of extant manuscripts, including information about their present locations. On the basis of selected examples, it will then demonstrate the significance of these manuscripts for diachronic research on Southern Min dialects. Lastly, by placing the findings into the context of recent studies on the history of missionary linguistics inside and outside China, it will be shown that missionary dialect descriptions started roughly at the same time as philological investigations of the court language and the Classical language. The historical contextualization thus contradicts the commonly held view that missionary dialect description was a Protestant innovation of the 19th century.

Di Toro, Anna: An Analysis of the 'Kitajskaja grammatika' by N. Ja. Bičurin (1777-1853)

Nikita Jakovlevič Bičurin (Father Iakinf), one of the founders of Russian sinology, boasts a very rich and diversified production: translations of Chinese Classics and texts on history and geography, many works on Chinese, Mongolian and Tibetan history and the compilation of a Chinese-Russian dictionary. But, apart from being an outstanding scholar, Bičurin was also an experienced teacher of Chinese language: he taught the students of the Russian Orthodox Mission in Beijing from 1808 to 1821 and later, from 1830 to 1838, was appointed teacher in the school of Chinese of Kjachta.
The Chinese language school of Kjachta, officially founded in 1831 to fulfil the demand of translators in the border town, one of the main trading centres between Russia and China, had a life of more than 30 years. It was the first Russian school of Chinese to follow a precise pedagogical programme, fixed by Bičurin himself. A fundamental role in the frame of this programme was played by Bičurin's Kitajskaja grammatika, published in Saint Petersburg in 1835 and later, in a new enlarged edition, in 1838.
In my paper I will first analyse the structure of the grammar, consisting of a preface, two parts and some tables and appendixes. The preface contains a general introduction to the Chinese language and some remarks on the grammars of the Chinese language written before by other European scholars. The first part of the book analyses the peculiarities of the Chinese language, such as tones, the frequency of polysemy and the form of writing, while in the second part the author describes the main grammatical and syntactical features. The appendixes and tables that conclude the book comprise some comparative tables of the various graphical forms of several characters, the table of the 214 radicals, a table listing and explaining the use of 43 classifiers, and other appendixes representing a practical support for the students of Chinese.
I will also compare Bičurin's work with some of the European grammars he quotes in the introduction to the Kitajskaja grammatika, such as the texts compiled by Fransisco Varo, Stephen Fourmont, Abel-Rémusat and Robert Morrison.

Romagnoli, Chiara: The interpretation of Saussure's "Course in general linguistics" in China after 1985

First known by the Japanese version, later translated into Chinese by Gao Mingkai, the Course in general linguistics was pubblished in China only in 1980. This is probably one of the reasons why the discussion about saussurean linguistics in China is still so lively and open. In this paper I’ll try to present the most interesting analysis given by Chinese linguists after 1985 about particular issues. While in the first period of saussurean studies the most discussed theme was the necessity to divide or not to divide langue (language) and parole (speech), recently thanks to a deeper reading of the Course and the translations of De Mauro’s critical work, Chinese linguists are thinking over different questions, such as the arbitrariness of linguistic sign, the importance of saussurean theory in the field of semiotics and the influence of saussurean linguistics on the development of such fields as sociolinguistics, applied linguistics and pragmatics. It’s very interesting to notice that while some Chinese linguists think that the arbitrariness of linguistic sign is the most important principle in the semiotic theory (Suo Zhenyu, Zhang Nini, Lu Deping), a big number of them try to prove that the iconicity rules the relationship between the form of linguistic sign and its meaning., between signifier and signified (Chen Jiaxuan, Wang Yin,Qin Hongwu).

 
A2: Historical Syntax and Grammaticalization

Peyraube, Alain (chair)

Statu, Nicolae Cristian: Parsing Mengzi: An Empirical Study of the Syntax of Classical Chinese

Classical Chinese is characterized by several grammatical phenomena that are notoriously difficult to parse, such as ellipsis, topicalization, dynamic shifts of grammatical category, etc. Although all of these are common to most languages, in the case of classical Chinese their conjunction and frequency turn them into central issues. Moreover, for not punctuated text the situation is further complicated by the absence of vital segmentation information. Since ambiguity is an inherent quality of natural language, parsers unavoidably generate alternative structures. However in the case of classical Chinese excluding meaningless readings in order to avoid blind overgeneration is a crucial issue and requires a systematic approach.

This paper attempts to tackle the problems of parsing classical Chinese by means of an experiment: several different formal descriptions of the grammar of selected fragments from the Mengzi are drawn up and then, based on these, different algorithms are developed and implemented in order to parse fragments of the text. Based on experimental results I discuss the adequacy of various grammar formalisms (e.g. lexicalized grammars and rule-based grammars) and parsing techniques (e.g. well-formed substring tables or slot-filling algorithms) for processing classical Chinese texts and the ways in which they can be adapted and/or combined for optimal results. I then discuss the possibility of enhancing the algorithms so as to accept unpunctuated text. Finally, I try to assess the usefulness of this approach to furthering our understanding of classical Chinese, as well as the possible applications of parsers to the analysis of texts in classical Chinese.

Chao, Fang-yi: The Establishment of the Verbal Classifier System in the Chinese Language

One of the typological characteristics of modern Chinese language is the classifier system. Traditionally the classifier system is divided by Chinese linguists (such as Liu Shiru, 1965) into two categories, i.e. nominal classifiers and verbal classifiers. Syntactically a nominal classifier “must occur with a number and/or a demonstrative before a noun” (Li & Thompson, 1981). While a verbal classifier must occur with a number and/or a demonstrative after a verb in modern Chinese language. There have been a lot of attentions on nominal classifiers since the significant role categorization played in human cognition was pointed out by cognitive linguists (such as Bolinger 1965 and Lakoff, 1973). However, there has not been as much effort devoted to the investigation of verbal classifiers in the Chinese language. The reason for this neglect of verbal classifiers lies in the superficial similarities between verbal classifiers and nominal classifiers: they both need to occur with a number or a demonstrative, and they both occur between the verb and the object of the verb, when an object is present. This paper argues that verbal classifiers and nominal classifiers categorize two different lexical classes, represent two different stages of cognitive evolvement, and function within two different kinds of phrase structures in the Chinese language. To demonstrate the significance of the verbal classifiers in forming the conceptual classification structure, this paper attempts to show the process of the establishment of the verbal classifier system as well as its effects to the Chinese linguist system.

Chen, Yin-ling: On the Grammaticalization of the Mandarin Verb YAO

This paper aims to thoroughly investigate the syntactic and semantic properties of the Mandarin verb yao ‘to request/ask for’ and elaborate the grammaticalization process involved. Grammaticalization of yao from a volitional verb to a conjunction not only language- internally results in polysemy in Mandarin but also language- externally brings about phonetical analogy to its neighboring dialect, Taiwanese.
Semantically, yao can diversely express ‘request’, or ‘desire’ as syntactically a volitional verb, ‘obligation’, as a deontic modal, ‘necessity’ or ‘possibility’ as an epistemic modal, ‘future’, and ‘immediate future’ as a aspectual marker, ‘conditional’ as a conjunction and ‘alternative’ as a preposition. Compelling to the cross-linguistic tendency that volitional verbs evolve future tenses (Ultan 1978, Bybee and Pagliuca 1985, Bybee et al. 1991), the polysemy of yao is not a chance artifact (Aijmer 1985, Anderson 1986, Bybee and Pagliuca 1985) but a consequence of grammaticalization. (Hopper 1991). Parallel to the diachronic change of the modal verb beh ‘want’ in Taiwanese, (Chang 1991), the grammaticalization of yao might start from a volitional verb, to a modal auxiliary, to a future aspectual marker, and to a conditional preposition. (Bybee et al. 1991).
The disambiguation of yao highly relies on its syntactic distributions. A bare yao that only takes a concrete NP as its compliment is a volitional verb that expresses request while yao following an optional xian ‘think’ that takes a abstract VP as a compliment is a volitional verb that expresses desire. When co-occurring with a sentential particle le ‘have done’, yao is an aspectual marker that expresses immediate future. While a bare yao that takes a VP might be a deontic modal, an epistemic modal and a future marker, adverbs such as yi-ding ‘definitely’ or ying-gai ‘supposedly’ may optionally precede yao, expressing obligation or possibility, which leaves future marker reading the default interpretation for a bare yao. Biclausally, paired yao expresses alternative as a preposition, while a single yao expresses conditional as a conjunction.
Despite the grammaticalization of yao that results in polysemy in Mandarin, its counterpart is intact in Taiwanese. Volitional yao that expresses request in Taiwanese is tho; the one that expresses desires is si)u)-beh. The modal that expresses obligation is ai or su-yao, while the aspectual markers are beh and beh…a, expressing future and immediate future. Na-si and the paired syllabic m express conditional and alternative, respectively. Although yao in Mandarin and beh in Taiwanese are not phonetically related, beh tends to be used in situations where other lexical items are used (Chang 1991), which may be an analogy to the Mandarin yao. This is evidence that, due to close interaction, grammaticalization of beh is undergoing lexical diffusion (Wang 1969) in Taiwanese.

 
A3: Mandarin Syntax and Pragmatics

Klöter, Henning (chair)

Alleton, Viviane: L'expression de la subjectivité en chinois mandarin : le verbe auxiliaire yao

En mandarin contemporain, le lexème yao peut remplir plusieurs fonctions grammaticales, associées à des valeurs sémantiques distinctes : préposition, verbe d’action (« vouloir/ vouloir que »), verbe auxiliaire (« vouloir » / «devoir » / évaluation d’une imminence ou d’une qualité).
Le sens de base de yao est « vouloir ». Dans cette acception, il peut gouverner un nom, une proposition ou un autre verbe (Vx-V2). Il n’est modal que dans ce dernier cas, ce ne contredit pas l’hypothèse de E. Benveniste selon laquelle les volitifs sont « modalisants par occasion ». Par contraste, la valeur déontique « devoir », comme les acceptions épistémiques se rencontrent exclusivement en construction de verbe auxiliaire.
Le caractère subjectif du volitif est évident. Pour les autres valeurs modales de yao, on peut montrer, en l’opposant aux autres verbes déontiques et épistémiques du mandarin contemporain, que la composante « subjectivité » est bien ce qui le caractérise. Nous tenons compte de la relation entre énonciateur et sujet, des indications sur la personne, des types de verbes auxiliés (V2), de leur caractère volontaire ou non, des marques d’aspect et de temps, du mode de l’énoncé .
Nous opposons yao à d’autres auxiliaires modaux déontiques et épistémiques, dans des contextes identiques ou en modifiant les conditions d’interaction.
Dans un domaine comme celui des modaux, ouvert à toutes les extrapolations, il importe de ne pas se contenter de l’étude des valeurs sémantiques et pragmatiques des formes étudiées : une analyse syntaxique soigneuse est un préalable trop souvent négligé.

Iljic, Robert: Issues in modality: chinese hui

The modal verb hui in Chinese has two apparently unrelated values : capacity and probability.

(1)Ta hui youyong.
<s/he-HUI-swim>
‘S/he can swim.’

(2 Kan yangzi hui xia yu.
<look-appearance-HUI-fall-rain>
‘It looks like rain.’

This dichotomy rests upon a narrow range of examples (know-how, weather forecast) and does not allow one to see that they are related.

By means of examples such as :

(3) Tie hui shengxiu.
<iron-HUI-get rusty>
‘Iron rusts.’

(4) Zhuzi hui kaihua.
<bamboo-HUI-blossom>
a) ‘Bamboo blossoms.’ [generic property] ; b) ‘This bamboo will blossom.’ [prediction]

we show that the first value is actually a latent property (p), acquired or inborn, applicable to both the animate and inanimate, which reveals itself only under appropriate conditions, and the second one an inference the speaker makes about one particular event, based on what he knows (what conditions activate p), and identifying such conditions within one particular situation.

The utterance containing the epistemic hui is a conclusion reached through a deductive reasoning, not a simple opinion. There is an underlying notion of necessity in the latent property. The transition from latent property to epistemic necessity, which implies a difference in contextual determination, is founded upon classic syllogistic reasoning : general law applying to a class of situations - recognition of an entity as an instance of the class - application of the law to the particular case .

(5)Ren dou you yi si.
<man-all-have-one-die>
‘Men are mortal.'

Sugeladi shi ren.
<Socrates-is-man>
‘Socrates is a man.'

Sugeladi hui si.
<Socrates-HUI-die>
‘Socrates will die.’

It is a matter of internal necessity, stemming from the intrinsic nature or essence of things, not possibility.

Hsiung, Hui-ju: Time Is A River: The Conceptual Metaphors Of Time In Mandarin Chinese

The goal of this paper is to present the conceptual metaphor TIME IS A RIVER as a primary metaphor for the spatialization of time in mandarin Chinese. In particular, this paper, based on this conceptual metaphor, provides an account for the orientation of time in both the horizontal axis and vertical axis of movement.
The decisive claim in the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980) refers to “a cross-domain mapping in the conceptual system”. For Chinese people, the time metaphors invoked by the spatial concepts are based even more on the conceptual domain of river that is directly related to our world experiences.
The metaphorical mappings between the domain of time and river can be attested by some common lexical items, such as liu ‘stream’ or ‘to flow’, su ‘to go upstream’, zhi ‘stagnant’, du ‘cross’, liu-nian ‘the fleeting time’, liu-guang ‘time’, shi-shui ‘time’…etc. Furthermore, they can also be proved by a great number of metaphorical expressions which not only exist in the daily language but also in the ancient literatures for representing the concepts of time. This gives evidence to the fact that the metaphorical projections from the domain of river to the domain of time are deep-rooted in the Chinese culture.
The previous studies on the orientation of time were very divergent. On the basis of TIME IS A RIVER metaphor, I differentiate between the temporal stream and temporal coordinates according to the relative motion. I suggest that 1) the temporal stream and ego are always dynamic, 2) both the temporal stream and ego move forward from the past to the future, while the temporal coordinates move from the future to the past, and 3) in the vertical axis, an earlier time is higher than a later time at the temporal coordinates. Similarly, in the horizontal axis, an earlier time is anterior to a later time at the temporal coordinates.

Del Gobbo, Francesca: On Chinese Relative Clauses and the Restrictive vs. Descriptive Distinction

According to Chao (1968) and Hashimoto (1971) a relative clause (RC) in Chinese is descriptive if it follows a demonstrative, but restrictive if it precedes it:
(1) na ge [dai yanjing de]nanhai
that CL wear glasses DE boy
‘that boy, who wears glasses’
(2) [dai yanjiing de]na ge nanhai
wear glasses DE that CL boy
‘the boy who wears glasses’
I show that the RC in (1) is a restrictive RC. The semantic difference between (1) and (2) is due to the presence of a generic quantifier within NP (Larson and Takahashi 2002). In support of this hypothesis, I show that Chinese prenominal RCs have the same ordering preferences noted by Larson and Takahashi (2002) for Japanese and Korean RCs and English prenominal modifiers. I conclude that a treatment of Chinese prenominal RCs as adjectival modifiers can explain their ability to modify proper names.
In summary, Chinese RCs modifying proper names are not appositive RCs (propositions), but appositive adjectival RCs (predicates). A new mode of semantic composition, Appositive Modification, allows Chinese RCs to combine with proper names without preventing the latter to further saturate.

Petrovcic, Mateja: The particle de in Chinese noun phrases with several attributive

There are over sixty rules explaining how to use the particle de in Chinese noun phrases and what is the order among the attributives before the head noun. However, most of the existing rules are dealing with the noun phrases with only one attributive present, that means with the situations where no or just one particle de is to be used.
This paper focuses on larger noun phrases with more than one attributive, whereby is trying to highlight the usage of the particle de from the syntactical point of view. One aim is to find out how many particles de are to be expected and on which position in the noun phrase they would occur.
If there is more than one attributive, some rules are not appropriate any more, although they work perfectly well in the cases with a single attributive. There are situations which would require more than one de to keep the noun phrase acceptable, but nevertheless, the same information can be expressed in other way to avoid the conflict among different rules. No matter, how long the noun phrases are and how many attributives there are in a noun phrase, just one particle de is usually found in the whole noun phrase. The paper is further dealing with the question, which of the potential de's will stay and which will be omitted.

 
A4: Language Corpora and their Use

Alleton, Viviane (chair)

Hu, Xiaoling, Nigel Williamson, Jamie McLaughlin: Chinese Texts in Electronic Form for Linguistic Analysis Project

(Funded by the British Academy)
University of Sheffield, UK

Studies on historical Chinese syntax often omit a thorough diachronic investigation across sections of data from different periods of Chinese history that would enable a better understanding of grammaticalization process. This is partially due to the absence of readily available a corpus of fully marked up Chinese texts. As a simple illustrative example, one of the texts we propose to use in this initial pilot project, ‘Zhuzi Yulei’ (Classified Conversations of Master Zhu by Zhuxi (thirteenth century), is available in an on-line database (http://libnt.npm.gov.tw/s25/) in Taiwan but there is no generalised full text search: the performable operations are limited to only three simple searches of a single word, of two words and of either of two words, and only to single chapters. Our project is intended to ameliorate this situation by creating a corpus of Chinese texts that are marked up in such a way to permit linguistic analysis to be carried out. In this pilot project the grammaticalization of the object marker ba and the passive marker bei is re-examined from a diachronic perspective.

The project is currently in a pilot phase and will be creating a limited corpus of texts using electronic material where possible. The texts will be marked up using XML (Extensible Markup Language). XML and SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) have been used to mark up texts in Indo-European languages like English. But their application to Chinese is still at an early stage. The XML research group in Shanghai Jiaotong University, China, has just completed a project on converting Chinese dictionaries into XML format for automatic extraction of some elements such as synonyms but their project is in the context of Chinese Windows. Our project will not be in the Chinese Windows context. It is therefore the first attempt in Britain to apply the new technology to Chinese texts and make it available on the Web which will be a significant contribution to the application of XML/SGML to Chinese. In addition, parallel English translations are added to broaden the accessibility of the fully-marked up Chinese texts. This paper will present the initial findings of the pilot project and demonstrate the possibilities of the technology.

Jiang, Ping: A Corpus-Based Investigation of 3-tone Systems across Chinese Dialects

This paper investigates three-tone systems across Chinese dialects, focusing on tonal inventories in terms of cross-linguistic distributions. Our investigation is conducted through “An Online Bilingual Database of Chinese Dialects” which contains all data extracted from 41 dialectal dictionaries and two major linguistic journals (i.e. Zhongguo Yuwen and Fangyan) published in Mainland China during 1979 to 2002 (Jiang 2001, 2002). There are 75 three-tone dialects in this database. In general, the number of contour tones outranks that of level tones, and the number of falling contours is slightly higher than that of rising contours. In particular, a dialect may have contour tones, but no level tones. In the 75 dialects surveyed, there are 10 dialects containing no level tones (i.e., 6 out of 10 have two falling tones and 4 out of 10 have two rising tones), but no dialect is found having no contour tones. Our findings also show that four types of distributional properties exist in terms of cross-linguistic frequency.

The first type is symmetrical distribution of tonal patterns. The majority of three-tone systems maximally contrast tonal patterns in that the three tones are distributed equally in level, falling and rising patterns. This is parallel to the symmetrical distribution of vowel systems reported by Greenberg (1976), and can be explained by the Principle of Maximal Perception.

The second type of distributional property is asymmetric distribution of level tones. Among the 75 three-tone systems, 65 have level tones (61 of them have one level tone, and 4 of them have two level tones). Of the 65 dialects containing level tones, 51 of them have high tone and 10 of them have mid tone. No dialect has only low tone. Within the 4 dialects that have two level tones, 3 of them have both high and mid levels, and 1 has high and low levels. No dialect has a combination of mid and low levels. This type of asymmetry can be attributed to the effect of Tonal Sonority Hierarchy proposed by Jiang-King (1996, 1998, 1999).

The third type of distributional property is register asymmetry among contour tones. Falling contours have the tendency to fall from high to mid or from high to low rather than from mid to low. On the other hand, rising contours have the tendency to rise from low to mid or from mid to high rather than from low to high. This is due to the ease of articulation: falling from high to mid or from high to low takes less effort. The same is true for rising from low to mid or from mid to high.

The fourth type distributional property is complementary distribution between simple rising contour and complex contour. That is, if a dialect has a simple rising tone, it does not have a complex contour tone, and vise versa. This supports the phonetic observation that all tones have a slightly falling onset on the spectrogram.

Kadar, Zoltan Daniel: The Powerful and the Powerless - A socio-pragmatic analysis of Chinese polite self-denigrating/speech-partner-elevating addressing

The aim of this presentation is to discuss a socio-pragmatically relevant and unstudied property of the Chinese polite self-denigration and speech-partner-elevation system, that how the whole vocabulary of denigrating/elevating address terms can be categorized. The question is, how many significant social groups existed in the pre-modern China which had their own self-denigrating terminology as speakers, and other-elevating-terminology as hearers.
It is known in general that some of the social groups used to have an independent vocabulary of denigrating/elevating terms. It is clear that some of the major groups, like the officials, possessed an independent denigrating/elevating terminology, but it is a problem that not only the minor but also even some of the major social groups, such as the peasants or the merchants, did not have any kind of specific terminology, i.e. the social distribution of Chinese polite elevating/denigrating terms seems to be unsystematic.
The analysis will show that it is the so-called 'power' semantic – the linguistic manifestation of social power – what formed the socio-pragmatic system of polite denigrating/elevating addressing. It will be discussed that - according to their elevation/denigration use - every Chinese social group can be categorised into one of three major groups, so a concrete socio-pragmatic system of polite elevation/denigration exists. The speech-partner-elevation and self-denigration implicated within and without these groups is controlled by the 'power' semantic. And the whole denigration/elevation terminology can be ranged into these three groups.
As a conclusion, a model of the socio-pragmatic system of polite elevation/denigration will be created.

 

Last update: Jul 21, 2004 (AJ)

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