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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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Chapter One - Organizational Principles of Chinese Syntactic Structures and Essential Notions 1


• C H A P T E R O N E • Organizational Principles of Chinese Syntactic Structures and Essential Notions Chapter One - Organizational Principles and Essential Notions Based on the findings of decades of linguistic research on Chinese word order, and also incorporating the author’s observations during her long years of study and Chinese language teaching, Chinese Syntactic Grammar is devoted to a de- tailed discussion of the organizational principles underlying Chinese syntactic structures. Those organizational principles have evolved from Chinese concep- tual structures, and developed from the functional perspective of communica- tion, so they are iconic, as they are either based on human perception of time and space of the physical world or stem from human intention to communicate effec- tively. Therefore, they are easy to understand and remember. We firmly believe that by uncovering the organizational principles underlying surface syntactic structures, Chinese word-order teaching and learning would become easier and more effective. What’s more, the principles reveal the nature of the Chinese lan- guage, and, functioning as general guidelines, they subsume many seemingly un- related word order patterns, thus we do not need to teach Chinese word order in a piecemeal fashion or only focus on discrete items. This book is not a comprehensive grammar book, its goal is to investigate the general guidelines that control and govern the construction of grammatical sequences and the motivations for the generation of a few special sentence struc- tures, which result from variations of basic sentence structures. Hence our dis- cussion...

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