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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 Five - Attributives and the Principle for Ordering Multiple Premodifiers 247


• C H A P T E R F I V E • Attributives and the Principle for Ordering Multiple Premodifiers Chapter Five - Order of Attributes In Chapters Two and Three we have examined the order of the clause element of adverbial and complement with respect to the verb they are associated with. We see that it is the PTS, PTSC and the Principle of Whole-Before-Part that govern and control their preverbal or post-verbal position. Thus the grammatical system of Chinese, in a great measure, reflects Chinese conceptual structure. It is main- tained that the grammatical system of a language, once conventionalized, has its own organizational principles, which manifest themselves through syntactic rules (Hu, 1994). One such rule is the general Principle of Modifier-Before- Modified. This organizational principle requires that all modifiers of a NP, whether adjective phrases, verb phrases, or clauses, must be positioned before the NP, regardless of their grammatical complexity or length. This principle seems to be arbitrary, unrelated to any conceptual or functional principle. Never- theless, Lu’s (1998) in-depth study of the internal word order of the Chinese NP has revealed that the ordering of cross-categorical premodifiers strictly observes two iconic principles: the Principle of Semantic Proximity (SP) and the Principle of Referential Precedence (RP). With the progression of our discussion, the reader will see clearly how the two iconic principles interact with each other in governing the order of premodifiers with respect to the head noun. 5.1. The Pattern of the Basic Internal Order in Chinese...

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