Referring expressions in Chinese and English discourse

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dc.contributor.advisor Riddle, Elizabeth M. en_US Shi, Yili en_US 2011-06-03T19:31:03Z 2011-06-03T19:31:03Z 1998 en_US 1998
dc.identifier LD2489.Z68 1998 .S55 en_US
dc.description.abstract Noun phrases (NPs) with the same reference may take a number of different forms. For example, in English a particular conference can be referred to as a conference, the conference, that conference, this conference, that, this, or it. This dissertation attempts to account for the use of such referring expressions in Chinese, based on Gundel, Hedberg and Zacharski's (1993) Givenness Hierarchy, and compares the discourse use of Chinese referring expressions with those of English. The Givenness Hierarchy is given below: THE GIVENNESS HIERARCHY: in uniquely type focus > activated > familiar > identifiable >referential> identifiable that {it} this {that N} {the N} {indefinite this N} {a N} this N. The Givenness Hierarchy correlates the form of referring expressions with their cognitive statuses, with each status being necessary and sufficient for the appropriate use of a different form or set of forms. The dissertation tests the Givenness Hierarchy to see if it adequately explains the use of referring expressions in Chinese. The data for this study are drawn from spoken and written texts from several different text types (cf. Biber 1986, 1988). The spoken data represent three different speech situations, i.e., face-to-face casual conversations, news broadcasts, and public speeches. The written texts represent different types, including short stories, novels, academic prose, magazine and journal articles, published letters and personal letters. The spoken and written data cover a range of formality and degree of planning. The results of the study show that the Givenness Hierarchy cannot account for the choice of form when two forms meet the sufficient cognitive requirements for appropriate use. More specifically, the Givenness Hierarchy fails to account for choices in Chinese between yi `one' NP and a bare NP when type identifiable is a necessary and sufficient condition for the appropriate use of both, or between nei `that' NP and a bare NP when uniquely identifiable is a necessary and sufficient condition for the appropriate use of both. It is proposed that within the individual categories of the Givenness Hierarchy, further distinction of the degree of discourse salience must be made in order to account for the distribution of Chinese NP forms in discourse. For example, the study shows that nei `that' encodes a uniquely identifiable referent and is used to increase referential salience, while a bare NP encodes a referent of neutral referential salience. Following Givon's (1984) line of research, the use of the numeral yi `one' is to code pragmatically important referents in discourse vs. the use of a bare NP to indicate referentially unimportant referents. To interpret the distribution of referring expressions in Chinese discourse, a number of properties of different expressions have been identified and characterized. The distal demonstrative determiner nei `that' has an associative anaphoric use, encoding an entity whose referent is uniquely identifiable based on what Hawkins (1978, 1991) calls P-sets, association sets. This function of nei as an associative anaphor demonstrates that its deictic function has become weak. In this regard, nei is beginning to function like the English definite article the. The distal demonstrative determiner nei has a recognitional use in talk-ininteraction, to use Schegloff's (1996) terms, negotiating shared knowledge and personal experiences. The demonstrative determiners zhe/na 'this/that' are studied in terms of word order variation. When in postverbal position, they function as definite markers, precluding indefinite interpretation of the postverbal NP. In preverbal position, they tend to increase referential salience of the subject/topic NP. The demonstrative pronouns are compared with the neuter pronoun ta `it' and zero when referring to inanimates. The neuter ta and zero tend to continue a topic, while demonstrative pronouns are likely to signal topic shift. This distinctive feature is shared by both English and Chinese. In sum, this dissertation contributes to our understanding of the use of referring expressions in both Chinese and English, which should be of interest both to linguists and to language teachers. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Department of English
dc.format.extent v, 259 leaves ; 28 cm. en_US
dc.source Virtual Press en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Chinese language -- Pronoun. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Chinese language -- Grammar, Comparative -- English. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Chinese language -- Discourse analysis. en_US
dc.title Referring expressions in Chinese and English discourse 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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