How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2004 13:20:29 -0800 From: Rong Chen Subject: Chinese Grammar: Synchronic and Diachronic Perspectives
EDITOR: Chappell, Hilary TITLE: Chinese Grammar SUBTITLE: Synchronic and Diachronic Perspectives PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press YEAR: 2003
Rong Chen, California State University, San Bernardino
An earlier version of this book was published in 2001, under the title Sinitic Grammar, a collection of papers presented at the First International Symposium on Synchronic and Diachronic Perspectives on the Grammar of Sinitic Languages (Melbourne, July 1996). Additional papers have been included in the present volume.
Chappell's Chinese Grammar: Synchronic and Diachronic Perspectives (CG) is divided into five parts. The only paper in Part I, by Chappell herself, provides a brief history of Chinese dialects as well as an overview of the upcoming chapters in the volume. The remaining parts contain three papers each.
Part II of CG focuses on typological and comparative grammar. In "The development of locative markers in the Shangsha Xiang Dialect," Wu uses spoken data to demonstrate that the four locative markers in the dialect have different relationships with the verbs they combine with, which she sees as a result of the different paths of grammaticalization the markers have gone through or the different stages they are at in the grammaticalization process. The second paper of Part II, "A typology of evidential markers in Sinitic Languages," by Chappell, analyzes verb enclitics in several dialects such as Mandarin, Shanghainese, Cantonese, Taiwanese, and Fuzhou. These markers have been traditionally viewed as aspectual markers. Chappell, however, argues convincingly that they be best seen as evidential markers "which conflate the immediate (personally observed or experienced) and inferential kinds, but not the reported or hearsay kinds." The last paper of Part II, by Lamarre, investigates verb complement constructions in several Chinese dialects. The author first classifies Sinitic verb complements into three categories: extent, manner, and potential. She then provides a typology of Chinese dialects based on this three-way classification. Dialects such as Mandarin form the first type, using the same marker for all three complement categories. Dialects such as Jin and Wu have decided to mark potential differently from extent and manner, thus forming Type II. Dialects such as Yue, on the other hand, marks extent differently from manner and potential. Lastly, there are also dialects, mostly in the Min group, that mark every category differently from any other.
In Part III of CG, Historical and Diachronic Grammar, Sagart ("Vestiges of Archaic Chinese Derivational Affixes in Modern Chinese Dialects") documents the appearance of the prefix *k- and the infix *-r- in Jin, Wu, Yue and some dialects of Mandarin. Further, the author provides evidence that these two morphemes are continuations of "processes of Archaic Chinese derivational morphology reconstructible independently on internal grounds." Diamouri ("Markers of prediction in Shang bone inscriptions") studies five such markers, proposing that these markers are not, as they may seem, adverbs. Peyraube, in the last paper of Part III ("On the Modal Auxiliaries of volition in Classical Chinese"), investigates four modal auxiliaries of volition and discovers an undeniable relationship between the use of these auxiliaries and polarity. Furthermore, diachronic evidence presented in the paper confirms that the historical changes of the auxiliaries of volition "have been the same as the ones stated for the modal auxiliaries of possibility: (1) from non-epistemic to epistemic; (2) from weak subjectivity to strong subjectivity."
Part IV of the book is devoted to three aspects of Cantonese grammar. The interrogative structure is dealt with by Cheung's "The interrogative Construction: (Re)constructing early Cantonese grammar," in which the author examines the use of yes/no questions in twelve sets of language teaching materials complied between 1828 and 1936 and identifies six types of A-not-A questions. He then argues that all of these types are structurally derived from the basic pattern of juxtaposing the positive and negative verb phrases. The causative/resultative is investigated by Yue, in "The verb complement construction in historical perspective with special reference to Cantonese." The author presents evidence that pivotal construction of the form V1 + NP +V2, where the NP is both the object of the first verb and the subject of the second, formed transitional construction out which the Verb-Complement structure emerged as early as the Han period (206 BCE-220 CE). The relative clause is the object of study by Mathews and Yip. The writers looks at the parallel use of two relative clause structures, one that uses classifiers as markers of relative clauses and the other makes use of the possessive as the relative marker, much like the case in Mandarin Chinese. These two structures are distinguished in terms of register: the classifier is used in colloquial speech while the latter, in former Cantonese.
Part V of CG, "Southern Min Grammar," comprises three studies on the grammar and morphosyntax of Southern Min, especially the Taiwanese variety. The first study is on duplication, by Tsao, who compares verbal and adjective duplication between Mandarin and Southern Min. Verbal duplication expresses the core meaning of tentativeness in both languages but can indicate "short duration" in the former and "rapid completion" in the latter. With regards to adjective duplication, Tsao finds that Mandarin uses the AABB form to express vividness while Southern Min, in addition to the AABB form, uses the ABAB form to express tentativeness. The second study, by Lien, investigates the morphological change in Taiwanese Southern Min in terms of stratificational distinctions between colloquial (native) and literary (alien) forms of the language. Adopting the theory of lexical diffusion, the author argues that the bidirectional lexical diffusion between the two strata has led to completing morphological changes. The third study of Part V, by Li, focuses on divergent paths of development of prepositions in Taiwanese Min and in Mandarin. The author lists ninety- three forms of prepositions in Mandarin and forty-nine forms in Taiwanese. Of these forty-nine Taiwanese prepositions, thirty-five are cognates with Mandarin and belong to the literary stratum, acquired through education. This leaves only fourteen of them to be used in the colloquial speech. Diachronically, Li demonstrates that the inventories of prepositions for Archaic and Medieval Chinese have largely undergone attrition, with new prepositions arising after each period at the rate of three times the quantity of their predecessors.
These twelve studies in the reviewed volume (excluding the editor's introduction) are all solid work, tackling different aspects of Sinitic grammar from a variety of perspectives. The book, as a whole, is a must for students of Sinitic languages, for reasons that are manifold but chiefly the following.
First, the book is the first that combines diachronic with synchronic approaches in the study of Sinitic languages. The shift from diachrony to synchrony in the beginning of the 20th Century has resulted in a regrettable neglect of the former for about a century in linguistic research, and it is about time for students to pay attention to the history of languages, to heed the apparently obvious wisdom that any synchronic state of language is a result of its previous states. Therefore, a synchronic study is much better informed if it is supported by diachronical evidence or, if not, has to be able to account for diachronic evidence once it is revealed. Chappell's CG abundantly demonstrates this assumption, thus making a significant contribution to linguistics in general and to Sinitic linguistics in particular.
The second strength of the book has to do with its coverage. Diachronically, it spans from the Shang period (with breaks, of course) to the present; synchronically, it offers analysis of different structures in a great many languages in the Sinitic group and many dialects within several languages in that group. Both of these are significant. There have been no lack of diachronic studies of Chinese grammar, for instance, but there has been no volume that I know that houses so many studies in one place. Synchronically, CG's emphasis on other languages than Mandarin is a hugely important shift from decades-long concentration by Chinese linguists on the artificially designated standard language. As diverse as any other language family, the Sinitic group deserves our devotion to its many languages and dialects, and I am happy that Chappell and her colleagues have given us a jump-start.
Thirdly, CG has all the traits of a well-written, well-edited book. The amount of information in it is admirable; its documentation is careful; its index is accurate; and it hardly has any typographical errors.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Rong Chen is Professor of Linguistics and Chair of English at California State University, San Bernardino. He has published an ESL reading textbook, twenty articles in various areas of linguistics and, recently, a book in the Cognitive Linguistics Research series entitled "English Inversion: A Ground- before-Figure Construction" (2003, Mouton de Gruyter). His research interests are pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, English linguistics, and Chinese linguistics.