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Title: Grammatical Relations in Chinese: Synchronic and Diachronic Considerations
Authors: LaPolla, Randy J.
Keywords: Sino-Tibetan Languages
Chinese Languages
Issue Date: 1990
Publisher: University of California at Berkeley
Abstract: The bulk of this dissertation is an analysis of grammatical relations (including syntactic, pragmatic, and semantic relations) in Modern Mandarin Chinese. In Chapter I the background, functional framework, and concepts used in the dissertation are introduced. In Chapter II it is shown that Chinese has not grammaticalized the syntactic functions ‘subject’ and ‘object’, and has no syntactic function-changing passive construction. In Chapter III the nature of word order and its relationship to information structure in Chinese is examined. It is argued that word order in Chinese does not mark ‘definite’ and ‘indefinite’ NPs, as is commonly assumed, but marks information structure. A number of marked focus structure constructions are also discussed. In Chapter IV the discussion is of the structure of Chinese discourse, developed from an analysis of the nature of discourse referent tracking. It is shown that recovery of anaphora is not based on syntactic functions, but is based on real world knowledge (semantics and pragmatics) and discourse structure. Chapter V gives the conclusions, followed by a discussion of some of the diachronic considerations that arose in the course of this investigation. It is suggested that within Sino-Tibetan, Chinese should be seen as an innovator in terms of word order, and that grammatical relations in Proto-Sino-Tibetan should be seen to be pragmatically based rather than syntactically based.
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