Synchronic Variations: ‘One’-Phrases as Minimizers in Modern Mandarin Chinese
This chapter will associate the synchronic distribution of Modern Mandarin minimizers with their diachronic development. The minimizer function tends to appear in the constructions with focal prominence. In Modern Mandarin, the association of minimizers with focal saliency is even more salient than that in the previous stages of Chinese. This Chapter will discuss how the requirement of focal prominence is reflected in the constructionalization of ‘one’-phrases in Modern Mandarin. The synchronic variants of minimizers and their skewed distribution in different word order patterns provide evidence for the claim that the meaning of a phrase has been shaped by the larger constructions where they occur. The corpus analysis of this chapter shows that the employment of a construction is pragmatically motivated.