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Adverbial Clauses in Mandarin Chinese

A Corpus-based Study


May Lai-Ying Wong

What are adverbial clauses in Chinese? Do they all have subjects as their counterparts do in English? How do the semantic domains of adverbial clauses interact with the distribution of subjects? How do Chinese corpora help us explore these intriguing questions?
The aim of this study is to demonstrate the usefulness of corpus linguistics as a methodology in grammar studies. A problem-oriented tagging approach has been used to enable the exploration of adverbial clauses in the corpus and to identify eleven semantically based classes of adverbial clauses. While it is a well-known fact that Chinese adverbial clauses (CACs) are overtly marked by a subordinating conjunction, their subjects can be left unexpressed and recovered in the prior discourse. By analysing naturally occurring spoken and written samples from various corpora, the author examines this intriguing phenomenon of overt and non-overt subjects in adverbial clauses.


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Chapter Three: Treebanking: The Compilation of a Sample PFR Corpus of Skeleton-parsed Sentences 45


45 Chapter Three Treebanking: The Compilation of a Sample PFR Corpus of Skeleton-parsed Sentences 3.1 Introduction The PFR Chinese Corpus used in this book is part-of-speech (POS) tagged. For the purposes of this book, however, I decided to add a further level of annotation to the corpus – constituent structure or syntactic annotation. As its name suggests, syntactic annotation makes explicit the constituent structure of sentences, usually in the form of labelled brackets. In the following sections, I will discuss the methods and issues relevant to the syntactic annotation of the PFR Chinese Corpus by build- ing a sample treebank. The goal in undertaking this annotation is to ease the identification of adverbial clauses in Chinese, which is the prime object of my book. Treebanks are simply corpora in which syntactic constituent struc- ture is made explicit by a process of corpus annotation (Leech and Garside, 1991: 15; Abeillé, 2003: xiv). My major concern here is not with software to achieve this annotation automatically (as at the time of writing, there are no effective available parsers designed for the Chinese language), but with the establishment of a parsing scheme and its manual application to written Chinese corpus data. More specifically, the approach taken here is inspired by the skeleton parsing approach (Eyes and Leech, 1993; Garside, 1993; Black et al., 1996; Leech and Eyes, 1997). Skeleton parsing seeks to produce simplified constituent-structure annotations. I do not intend to go into a deep or logical annotation which would apply functional labels for...

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