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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 Seven: Semantic Classes and Non-overt Subjects of CACs in the Lancaster Corpus of Mandarin Chinese 233


233 Chapter Seven Semantic Classes and Non-overt Subjects of CACs in the Lancaster Corpus of Mandarin Chinese 7.1 Introduction The Lancaster Corpus of Mandarin Chinese (LCMC) is used in this book in large part to offset four major drawbacks of the PFR Chinese Corpus. Firstly, the PFR corpus is made up of newswire texts only. Journalistic writing is only one form of written language (Biber, 1988: 69) and thus a body of journalistic texts can hardly be sufficiently rep- resentative of written language as a whole. The LCMC corpus is, how- ever, a balanced corpus of Mandarin Chinese, modelling its sampling frame on that of the Freiburg-LOB Corpus of British English or FLOB (Hundt et al., 1998): it has 500 samples of 2,000 words each, taken from fifteen different text types, as shown in Table 26 (McEnery and Xiao, 2004b). Secondly, while the tagset of the LCMC corpus is basi- cally identical to that of the PFR corpus (see Chapter Two, section, it uses five additional tags i.e. conjunction morpheme (cg), sentential punctuation (ew), locality morpheme (fg), preposition mor- pheme (pg) and descriptive morpheme (zg). In particular, the distinc- tion between non-sentential punctuation (w) and sentential punctuation (ew) is vital as it eases the identification of individual sentences in which an adverbial clause occurs so that the reference of the non-overt subject of the adverbial clause can easily be tracked down. Furthermore, un- like the written texts in most of the extant Chinese corpora, including the PFR corpus,...

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