The Morphology of Chinese: A Linguistic and Cognitive Approach

The Morphology of Chinese: A Linguistic and Cognitive Approach

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0521026105

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book aims to dispel the myth that Chinese "doesn't have words" but instead "has characters." Jerome Packard challenges the common belief that Chinese has no morphology, demonstrating how analysis of Chinese word formation enhances our understanding of word universals in natural language. His book describes the intimate relationship between words and their components and offers new insights into their evolution. Models are offered for how Chinese words are stored in the mental lexicon and processed in natural speech.

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‘word’ among native speakers of Chinese, as evidenced by the fact that the Chinese technical term for ‘word’ (cí ) is very close to the notion as defined using the syntactic definition. Also, aside from expressions which derive from Classical Chinese and different registers of use (such as literary vs. colloquial, standard vs. local dialect, individual variation, etc.), there is a surprising degree of unanimity among Chinese native speakers as to which entities are able to occupy a syntactic form

* listed in the cited reference dictionary as phrases, not words ** non-compositional, highly lexicalized words only when the gestalt word is a noun. As with previous examples, its use as a verb on the left takes one of two forms – it is either the verb in a lexicalized V–O word, or the first verb in a V₁–V₂ word. One anomaly involving -zhC- when it appears as the left constituent of a word is the number of adjectives (stative verbs) it may form in verb–noun V–O [V N]SV combinations. -zhC-

each of the component verbs. The following are examples in which V₁ and V₂ are virtually synonymous, with the gestalt verb representing that one synonymous meaning. dàoqiè dìjiao dieshc djsè duibì guànchuan guàngài tfolùn yuèdú zhhdfo steal-steal pass:over-transfer lose-lose stop:up-plug hide/avoid-hide/avoid pierce-penetrate irrigate-irrigate discuss-discuss read-read point:out-guide ‘steal’ ‘submit’ ‘lose’ ‘stop up’ ‘hide, avoid’ ‘penetrate’ ‘irrigate’ ‘discuss’ ‘read’ ‘direct, guide’ 

perhaps there is no concept of word that is universally applicable. Indeed, if there is no cross-linguistic, or universal psycholinguistic evidence for the existence of the word, then we may well doubt the validity of the word as a primitive natural language construct. It could a priori be the case that there is really no such thing in absolute terms as the ‘word’, and that it is just an artifactual linguistic construct that happens to coincide with salient units intermediate between morphemes

(piAnyì fùcí phonetic loans, the sounds of the borrowed word are represented in writing by characters which, although they have standard meanings, nonetheless contribute no semantic information to the borrowed word. In ‘one-sided’ words, the complete word has come to take on the meaning of only one of its constituents, effectively losing the meaning of the other constituent. Despite these exceptions, in general it is more difficult in other languages than in Mandarin to divide words unambiguously

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