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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 Eight: Semantic Classes and Non-overt Subjects of CACs in the CALLHOME Mandarin Chinese Transcripts Corpus 271


271 Chapter Eight Semantic Classes and Non-overt Subjects of CACs in the CALLHOME Mandarin Chinese Transcripts Corpus 8.1 Introduction In this chapter, I will examine spoken and written registers’ use of ad- verbial clauses by comparing the behaviour of adverbial clauses in the fifteen text categories of the LCMC corpus to that in a spoken corpus of Mandarin Chinese (cf. Wang, 1998 and 1999). Many studies have ex- plored the differences between spoken and written language for a range of languages, but not Chinese.1 Hence findings from a contrastive study of adverbial clauses between spoken and written Chinese can be used to re-evaluate claims made in the literature about the differences be- tween spoken and written discourse derived from the study of other languages. The spoken Mandarin Chinese corpus2 used in this chapter is the CALLHOME Mandarin Chinese Transcripts Corpus3 (Wheatley, 1996; Huang et al., 1997; Zhan et al., 1998; Cieri, 2000; Cieri and Liberman, 1 For example, Pellegrino and Scopesi, 1978; Ochs, 1979; Olson, 1980; Rubin, 1980; Green and Morgan, 1981; Kroll and Vann, 1981; Scibner and Cole, 1981; Akinnaso, 1982; Chafe, 1982, 1985, 1986a and 1986b; Lakoff, 1982; Ong, 1982; Tannen, 1982a, 1982b, 1982c and 1985; Hinofotis, 1983; Redeker, 1984; Biber 1986a, 1986b, 1988 and 1992; Halliday, 1987 and 1989. 2 There are some other spoken Mandarin Chinese corpora available at the LDC. These are broadcast speech corpora (e.g. 1997 Mandarin Broadcast News Speech, TDT2 Mandarin Audio Corpus and TDT3 Mandarin Audio), and telephone speech cor- pora (e.g....

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