Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics

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Subject: Language and Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Rint SYBESMA, Leiden University

Associate Editors: Wolfgang BEHR University of Zürich, Yueguo GU Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Zev HANDEL University of Washington, C.-T. James HUANG Harvard University and James MYERS National Chung Cheng University

The Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics offers a systematic and comprehensive overview of the languages of China and the different ways in which they are and have been studied. It provides authoritative treatment of all important aspects of the languages spoken in China, today and in the past, from many different angles, as well as the different linguistic traditions they have been investigated in.

More information: Brill.com

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

(3,051 words)

Author(s): James MYERS
1. History and Controversy The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis refers to the claim that features of one’s language affect one’s thoughts (linguistic determinism), so that different languages foster different conceptual systems (linguistic relativity). This lemma reviews experimental tests of this hypothesis in Chinese. The hypothesis is so named because of notions expressed in Sapir (1929) and Whorf (1939) (cf. Hill and Mannheim 1992). In its first modern application to Chinese (cf. Kwan 2001), Hockett (1954) cites the greater emphasis on manne…
Date: 2017-03-02

Say-Complementizers: shuō 說, waa3 話, kong1 講

(3,132 words)

Author(s): Hilary CHAPPELL
1. Definition of a Complementizer A complementizer, cóngjù biāojì 從句標記 in Chinese, is a grammatical morpheme introducing a dependent clause that can fill either, if not both, the positions of subject or object argument of the matrix verb, that is, the main clause verb. Complementizers are also known under the names of "subordinating conjunctions" and "clause linkers".   The first two examples show the presence of clausal arguments respectively filling the object (1) and the subject positions (2) in English, which uses the demonstrative 'that' as its complementizer:  1. She believes [ t…
Date: 2017-03-02

Scalar Implicature

(2,133 words)

Author(s): Yan JIANG
Scalar implicature (henceforth SI) is a notion developed in inferential pragmatics. Its derivation crucially relies on the existence of sets of linguistic units that form a special implicating relationship. Such a set consists of items forming an ordered set <e1, e2, … en>, in which the following criteria hold: 1. The set involves at least two items. That is, it is neither non-null nor a singleton; 2. Each item to the left is semantically stronger than the ones to the right. A semantically stronger item conveys information that is positively higher in degree, l…
Date: 2017-03-02

Script Reform (1940-2002): Context and Policies

(1,931 words)

Author(s): Yuming LI
1. Historical Background In 1913, right after the collapse of the Qīng dynasty, the Qièyīnzì 切音字 or National Alphabet Movement, which had started in 1892, led to the development of a set of 39 phonetic symbols derived from Chinese characters, meant to be the national standard to phoneticize Standard Chinese pronunciation. They were called zhùyīn zìmǔ 注音字母 ‘sound notating letters’ and were also known as the National Phonetic Alphabet. In 1928, a romanization system called Gwoyeu Romatzyh ( Guóyǔ Luómǎzì 國語羅馬字 ‘Roman letters for the national language’) or National Romanizati…
Date: 2017-03-02

Script Reform (20th century): History and Analysis

(2,075 words)

Author(s): Jeroen WIEDENHOF
In the 1950–1960s, the young People's Republic of China initiated a series of educational policies to spark off a revolution in national literacy rates. Among these measures, Chinese script reforms constituted by far the most challenging enterprise. The long history of Chinese characters is marked by two milestones of standardization: the introduction of the Small Seal Script ( xiǎozhuàn 小篆) as an official norm in the Qín Dynasty (221–206 BCE) and the introduction of script reforms during the 1950–1960s in the People’s Republic. Although separated by o…
Date: 2017-03-02

Semantic Processing: Anaphora and Quantifier Scope

(5,028 words)

Author(s): Yu Xia WANG | Chin-Lung YANG
Both anaphors and quantifiers are ubiquitous in natural language and include variant expressions to serve various functions in sentences and discourse. Anaphors include the third person pronouns like tā 他/她 ‘he/she’ (hereafter pronoun), reflexives like zìjǐ 自己 ‘self’ and tā/tāzìjǐ 他/她自己 ‘him/herself’ (hereafter reflexive), and proper names like Lǐ Sì/Zhāng Sān 李四/張三, while quantifiers include měige 每個 ‘every’ and  yīxiē 一些 ‘some’, and quantificational adverbs like dōu 都 ‘all, each’. These expressions serve an important discourse function in promoting a co…
Date: 2017-03-02

Sentence Processing: Long Distance Dependencies

(3,181 words)

Author(s): Ming XIANG
To understand the architecture of human sentence comprehension, one needs empirical evidence to address at least two issues. First, what are the necessary linguistic representations built in real time in order for sentence comprehension to happen? And second, what are the control structures that impose processing operations and constraints on such representations? Filler-gap dependencies form an ideal testing ground for this investigation. Sentences as simple as Which movie do you think John will like? have attracted attention of both theoretical linguists and psycho…
Date: 2017-03-02

Sentence Processing: Relative Clauses

(3,399 words)

Author(s): Charles LIN
1. Introduction The comprehension of relative clauses has been one of the best-studied topics in psycholinguistics. Several important properties of relative clauses have made them a favorable choice for studying sentence parsing. Relative clauses are subordinate structures that modify the head noun inside a noun phrase. This head noun is usually referred to as an extracted noun, or a filler. Inside a relative clause, there is a nominal element that holds the same identity as the head noun it modif…
Date: 2017-03-02

Sentence Processing: Resolving Garden-path Ambiguities

(3,239 words)

Author(s): Ming XIANG
1. Introduction During the process of sentence comprehension, an incremental parser constantly faces choice points at which there is more than one option for the current parse to continue. If a particular parsing decision turns out to be incorrect in light of later linguistic input, the parser has to backtrack and revise the initial analysis. Sentences that present local ambiguities that may potentially lead the parser to the wrong parse are called garden path sentences. Some classic examples of garden path sentences are given in (1) (examples taken from Townsend and Bever 2001): 1. a. M…
Date: 2017-03-02

Serial Verbs

(3,908 words)

Author(s): Walter BISANG
The phenomenon of serial verbs, verb serialization or serial verb constructions (SVCs) is not restricted to Sinitic languages, it is an areal phenomenon of East and mainland Southeast Asian languages (cf. Areal Typology; Bisang 1991, 1992) and it is also widely attested in the languages of West Africa (Déchaine 1993; Collins 1997), in Pidgins and Creoles (Muysken and Veenstra 1997:289–301), in Amazonia (Aikhenvald 1999), in Oceania (Crowley 2002; Brill and Ozanne-Rivière 2004), and in New Guinea…
Date: 2017-03-02