Indefinite determiner introducing definite referent: a special use of 'yi 'one' + classifier' in Chinese

Chen, Ping (2003) Indefinite determiner introducing definite referent: a special use of 'yi 'one' + classifier' in Chinese. Lingua, 113 12: 1169-1184. doi:10.1016/S0024-3841(02)00163-8

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Author Chen, Ping
Title Indefinite determiner introducing definite referent: a special use of 'yi 'one' + classifier' in Chinese
Formatted title
Indefinite determiner introducing definite referent: a special use of 'yi 'one' + classifier' in Chinese
Journal name Lingua   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0024-3841
Publication date 2003-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/S0024-3841(02)00163-8
Volume 113
Issue 12
Start page 1169
End page 1184
Total pages 16
Editor J. Rooryck
Place of publication Amsterdam, North-Holland
Publisher Elsevier BV
Collection year 2003
Language eng
Subject C1
751001 Languages and literature
420112 Chinese Languages
Abstract The indefinite determiner yi 'one'+ classifier' is the most approximate to an indefinite article, like the English a, in Chinese. It serves all the functions characteristic of representative stages of grammaticalization from a numeral to a generalized indefinite determiner as elaborated in the literature. It is established in this paper that the Chinese indefinite determiner has developed a special use with definite expressions, serving as a backgrounding device marking entities as of low thematic importance and unlikely to receive subsequent mentions in ensuing discourse. 'yi+ classifier' in the special use with definite expressions displays striking similarities in terms of semantic bleaching and phonological reduction with the same determiner at the advanced stage of grammaticalization characterized by uses with generics, nonspecifics and nonreferentials. An explanation is offered in terms of an implicational relation between nonreferentiality and low thematic importance which characterize the two uses of the indefinite determiner. While providing another piece of evidence in support of the claim that semantically nonreferentials and entities of low thematic importance tend to be encoded in terms of same linguistic devices in language, findings in this paper have shown how an indefinite determiner can undergo a higher degree of grammaticalization than has been reported in the literature-it expands its scope to mark not only indefinite but also definite expressions as semantically nonreferential and/or thematically unimportant. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keyword Language & Linguistics Theory
Applied Linguistics
Indefinite Determiner
Definite Expression
Referentiality
Thematic Importance
Grammaticalization
Q-Index Code C1

 
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 02:21:41 EST