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Intensifiers and Reflexive Pronouns in English and Mandarin Chinese

A Contrastive Study

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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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Identity expressions in the two languages that are used both as intensifiers and as reflexive pronouns must have very similar meanings. But these very similar phenomena are not entirely the same, as have been discussed in my study. There is a remarkable degree of similarity but there are also striking differences. The similarities as well as the differences between the identity expressions in the two languages cannot simply be stated as: “identity expressions in English ≠ identity expressions in Mandarin Chinese; intensifiers / reflexive pronouns in English ≠ intensifiers / reflexive pronouns in Mandarin Chinese”. One basic result of my study is that identity expressions in English are a special category; identity expressions in Mandarin Chinese are an instance of a related but different language-specific category. These two categories are not the identical. Only based on such a view can a contrastive study be carried out. My study reveals that identity expressions in the two languages differ in terms of their category and at the same time share similarities and differences on linguistic levels such as morphological make-up, syntactic distribution and meaning.

The identity expressions that are observed and compared in the two languages I have chosen in my dissertation are:



Table 35: major identity expressions under comparison in this dissertation

Major similarities and differences of the identity expressions in these two languages are summarized below:

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