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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 Two - Adverbials and Their Positions With Respect to the VP 35


• C H A P T E R T W O • Adverbials and Their Positions With Respect to the VP Chapter Two - Adverbials Chapter Two is devoted to a detailed examination of the clause element of ad- verbials and its position with respect to the VP. Adverbials are complex due to the following reasons: first, they have a wide range of semantic roles; second, they have distinctive grammatical functions (adjuncts, subjuncts, disjuncts, con- juncts); third, they may be realized by different forms (an adverb, a prepositional phrase, a NP, or a VP); fourth, there may be multiple occurrences of adverbials in a sentence; and last, their position is relatively flexible (occurring medially, initially or finally for highlighting the information). We assert that the position of an adverbial with respect to the VP it modifies is governed by one of the three Chinese conceptual principles proposed by Tai (1985) or by the notion of semantic scope. Analyses of the application of the principles are based on the semantic roles of adverbials, this is because ‘Seman- tics is primarily concerned with meanings that are relatively stable out of con- text…’ (Levinson 1983, Green 1989). Semantic roles or relations, as stated in Chapter 1, ‘can be seen as essential, notional part of word order units, and they are the simplest and most primitive relations among word order units’ (Lu, 1998: 26). Hence, this chapter will be presented in the following order: the chapter be- gins with a reintroduction of the conceptual Principle...

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