An analysis of Chinese four-character idioms containing numbers : structural patterns and cultural significance

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dc.contributor.advisor Riddle, Elizabeth M. Nall, Timothy M. en_US
dc.coverage.spatial a-cc--- en_US 2011-06-09T15:28:43Z 2011-06-09T15:28:43Z 2009 en_US 2009
dc.description.abstract This dissertation explores the robust confluence of syntactic and cultural factors involved in the structure and content of chéngyǔ. It unpacks a number of structural tendencies in the data sample, and illuminates selected underlying cultural themes. The presence of syntactic and semantic parallelism within chéngyǔ in the dataset, as an expression of the correlative Chinese philosophy of the wǔxíng (五行 ‘Five Phases’ or ‘Five Elements’ of the universe), is a recurring point. Syntactic parallelism is demonstrated via chéngyǔ with invertible elements and by the overwhelming preference for syntactic parallelism, in particular the # N # N structure. Semantic parallelism is demonstrated via content words with related semantic fields or separable content words. The Chinese philosophical concepts of yīn and yáng are shown to have a clear impact on the use of numbers within chéngyǔ. Yīn and yáng are preferably arranged in balance with each other. If only one is present, however, then yáng is considered to be preferable over yīn. The interaction between the numbers within chéngyǔ has several pragmatic effects. For example, the combination of the numbers qī (七 'seven') and bā (八 'eight') is used to suggest disorder, untidiness or physical or emotional disturbance (Pellatt 2007:96). Bàn (半 ‘half’) may be used in chéngyǔ to denote the meaning of ‘a proportion.’ It also may be used together with yī (一 ‘one’) to indicate ‘any at all’ as well as a cluster of closely related concepts generally indicating ‘the existence of a small amount.’ Numbers also often have the effect of highlighting the contrast between two content words. Some chéngyǔ have a clearcut syntactic analysis, others do not. This is due to their highly elliptical and idiomatic nature, the fact that many lexemes can fall into more than one word class, and the fact that chéngyǔ are frozen expressions that often preserve some grammatical structures from Classical Chinese. Additionally, chéngyǔ do include conceptual metaphors, from the standpoint of the conceptual theory of metaphor launched with Lakoff and Johnson (1980).
dc.description.sponsorship Department of English
dc.format.extent viii, 201 p. : digital, PDF file, col. ill.. en_US
dc.language.iso eng chi en_US
dc.source CardinalScholar 1.0 en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Chinese language -- Idioms. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Chinese language -- Numerals.
dc.subject.lcsh Symbolism of numbers -- China.
dc.title An analysis of Chinese four-character idioms containing numbers : structural patterns and cultural significance en_US Thesis (Ph. D.) en_US
dc.identifier.cardcat-url en_US

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  • Doctoral Dissertations [3248]
    Doctoral dissertations submitted to the Graduate School by Ball State University doctoral candidates in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

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