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Chinese Syntactic Grammar

Functional and Conceptual Principles


Jian Kang Loar

Chinese Syntactic Grammar: Functional and Conceptual Principles is unique in that it discusses the organizational principles of Chinese syntactic structures in terms of conceptual and functional principles, which are iconic and hence are easy to understand and apply. The organizational principles mainly comprise the three Chinese conceptual principles of Temporal Sequence, Temporal Scope, and Whole-Before-Part (Tai, 1985) and the two functional principles of Communicative Dynamism and the Principle of Topic-End Focus. By analyzing the semantic roles of each clause element, Chinese Syntactic Grammar reveals that the conceptual principles play a crucial role in organizing ideas and bringing units (such as subject, verb, and object) together to form grammatical sequences, which manifest S (A) V O (C), which is the basic Chinese word order. The functional principles control and govern variations of the basic sentence structure, which are motivated to facilitate effective communication and achieve specific communicative goals, thus generating several special structures, including the Bá/Bèi/null Bèi sentences, etc. The variant forms are motivated to achieve special communicative goals, and to facilitate effective communication.
Another feature of the book is that it focuses on reasons, rather than merely on a description of rules. The language is lucid, and the arguments are cogent. The scope and depth of the investigation make the volume one of the most thorough and relatively complete pedagogical reference books. Chinese Syntactic Grammar can serve as a textbook for training professional CFL teachers. It is a must-read book for Mandarin Chinese teachers as a handy manual, also for intermediate and advanced Chinese learners if they want to have deeper insight into the nature of the Chinese language. Linguists who are interested in cognitive grammar and specialists across many fields including education, psychology, communication, and information science will find the book enlightening and interesting.


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Preface xvii


xvii Preface This book is concerned with the organizational principles underlying Chinese surface syntax, therefore it can be used as a textbook for word order study and teaching. It is also useful as a reference book for scholars and intermedi- ate/advanced students of Mandarin Chinese. My interest in and study of word order teaching was inspired by Ruther- ford’s (1988) viewpoint on pedagogical grammar which he stated in his article on “Functions of Grammar in a Language-Teaching Syllabus”. Rutherford ex- pressed his critical attitude to common approaches to pedagogical grammar which regard language as consisting of a group of items and units. He doubts the effectiveness of teaching grammar in a piecemeal fashion, and of focusing on discrete units of low-level syntax, such as subject-verb agreement, plural and possessive markers, parts of speech, etc. He argues that the makeup of these rules can be easily observed at the level of surface syntax, and a cumulative mas- tery of the discrete units does not mean successful learning of a language, be- cause there are unobservable properties of language system that are crucial to the use of language. Therefore, Rutherford urges that our pedagogical grammar should turn attention to the most important thing to the effective use of language, that is: “Through what means the target language conceptualizes reality and the grammaticalization of those concepts”. Ways of conceptualization of reality and syntactic organizational principles are unobservable properties of language sys- tem, or properties of a language in its deep grammar. They are...

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