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Intensifiers and Reflexive Pronouns in English and Mandarin Chinese

A Contrastive Study


Lin Wang

The book is a study on intensifiers and reflexive pronouns between two languages (English and Mandarin Chinese) and the first one drawing a complete picture in this domain. It provides the full uses of self, zìjĭ and běnrén. In the case of běnrén, here for the first time the full use of this pronoun in Mandarin Chinese is analysed. It is also the first book that uses contrastive study to talk about intensifiers and reflexive pronouns, which reveals many hidden characteristics of the intensifiers and reflexive pronouns that otherwise cannot be seen. It is based on the most distinctive research of the latest 30 years in the linguistic field.
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A. Defining the Object of the Study


Referentially dependent expressions in general, and anaphors4 in particular, have been of great interest to linguists for years now and have been studied from a wide variety of different perspectives. Such discussions have been inspired and led to numerous new insights by typological studies such as by Faltz (1985) and the generative studies inspired by Chomsky‘s Binding Principles (1981).

First introduced by Moravcsik (1972) (cf. also Edmondson & Plank 1978, König 1991; Siemund 2000), intensifiers5 are defined in the World Atlas ( on the basis of their prosodic, syntactic and semantic properties as well as on the basis of cross-linguistic considerations:

By intensifiers we mean expressions like German selbst, Russian sam, Turkish kendi, Mandarin zìj, English X-self, which can be adjoined to either NPs or VPs, are invariably focused and thus prosodically prominent. The main function of intensifiers can be seen in the evoking of alternatives to the referent of the NP they relate to.

In traditional grammar and even in modern grammar handbooks there is no established term for these expressions. They are typically called emphatic reflexives or emphatics (e.g. Quirk et al. 1985; Huddleston & Pullum 2002), emphasizers (Dirven 1973), and intensive pronouns (Cantrall 1973).

As has already been mentioned, there are (at least) two uses of identity expressions in English and German and their uses as intensifiers clearly contrast in meaning and distribution with their uses as reflexive pronouns despite their formal identity in a...

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