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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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B. Previous Research


There are at least two approaches concerning to linguistic analysis, one is the approach of language-specific descriptive categories; the other is the comparative approach, i.e. cross-linguistic comparison. Language-particular categories contain properties that are language-specific and aim at describing language systems in their own terms (e.g. Boas 1911). The relationship of these two approaches has been treated differently, which leads to two influential branches of cross-linguistic comparison: the Greenbergian approach and the generative approach. The Greenbergian approach (e.g. Greenberg 1963, Mallinson & Blake 1981, Comrie 1989, Dryer 1992, Croft 2003, Haspelmath et al. (eds.) 2005, Song (ed.) to appear) treats language-specific descriptive categories as part of the language system and it is independent of comparative concepts, which belong to a set of meta-category. Their assumption is that language specific descriptive categories vary from language to language and should not be mixed up with comparative concepts despite the fact that the two are often referred to by the same terms. The differences between the categories in each language are striking and exclude the possibility of regarding these categories as universal. Typologists therefore adopt comparative concepts for a comparative work, since in their view, pre-established cross-linguistic categories do not exist. On the other hand, the generative approach accepts the idea of the existence of the pre-established cross-linguistic categories and one of the main tasks of comparative linguists in that view is to determine what these cross-linguistic categories are. All that linguists have to do is to identify the identity expressions that is contained...

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