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Referential Instructions in Mandarin Nominal System: Bare Nominal Constructions Versus Prenominal Modifications

  • Meichun LiuEmail author
  • Yingying Ye
Chapter
Part of the Frontiers in Chinese Linguistics book series (FiCL, volume 9)

Abstract

This study aims to account for the referentiality in Mandarin nominals by observing bare nouns and prenominal modifications. Bare nouns are unique and common in Mandarin; Modified nouns here refer to nouns with one or more modifications with de. Based on corpus findings, this study proposes a form-meaning mapping account for referential properties summarized as follows: bare nouns are a convenient device encodes two opposite ends of referential instructions, which are highly identifiable to listeners or there is no instruction/no need to identify the referent; the middle continuum are fulfilled with prenominal modifications. Semantically the more prototypically characterizing the modification is, contextually the more informationally given and identifiable the modification is, the much closer it is to head noun. In sum, the study is significant in showing that semantic prototypicality and information flow at the discourse-level work together to determine preferentiality marking and functional position of prenominal constructions in Mandarin.

Keywords

Referential instructions Bare nominal constructions Prenominal modifications Semantic prototypicality Information flow 

Abbreviations

DE

“的” (Chinese prenominal marker)

GUO

“過” (Chinese experiential marker)

M

masculine

NEG

negative

NOM

nomination

PERF

perfective

SG

singular

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Copyright information

© Peking University Press 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics and TranslationCity University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong

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