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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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E. Analysis on Běn-expressions and Possible Referents of Běnrén


As can be seen in the above contrasts, běnrén behaves differently from its compound form X-běnrén as well as from other reflexive pronouns. Therefore it is necessary to analyze the underlying reasons of the functions of běnrén. The initial observation should be based on běn expressions, which are highly relevant to the meanings and uses of běnrén. After that, we will discuss further contrasts between the use of běnrén and self-forms in English.

The relevant literature on reflexive pronouns in Mandarin Chinese usually takes zìjĭ as well as its complex form as default cases of their study. Very little discussion was focused on the formal and semantic properties of běnrén and X-běnrén. Searches in the CCL suggest that běnrén together with X-běnrén are also largely used, therefore it is necessary to carry out a detailed analysis of them as well.

Table 29: the form běnrén

Běnrén has a considerable frequency as well as flexibility in its use. Consisting of two independent characters, the word-by-word translation into English of this is ‘this person’. Běn literally contains a deictic meaning and refers to something in the proximity of the speaker, indicating a sense of possessing, belonging or ownership. More often than not, it is used by the speaker to imply a relationship between him / her and the object under discussion,...

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