Identifiability and definiteness in Chinese

Chen, Ping (2004) Identifiability and definiteness in Chinese. Linguistics, 42 6: 1129-1184. doi:10.1515/ling.2004.42.6.1129

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Author Chen, Ping
Title Identifiability and definiteness in Chinese
Journal name Linguistics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0024-3949
Publication date 2004-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1515/ling.2004.42.6.1129
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 42
Issue 6
Start page 1129
End page 1184
Total pages 56
Editor W. Klein
A. Kelly
Place of publication Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Publisher Mouton de Gruyter
Language eng
Subject C1
420112 Chinese Languages
751001 Languages and literature
Abstract This article explores how the pragmatic notion of identfiability is encoded in Chinese. It presents a detailed analysis of the distinctive linguistic devices, including lexical, morphological, and position in sentence, which are employed in Chinese to indicate the interpretation of referents in respect of identifiability. Of the major determiners in Chinese, demonstratives are developing uses of a definite article, and yi 'one' + classier has developed uses of an indefinite article, although morphologically and in some cases also functionally they have not yet been fully grammaticalized. What makes Chinese further different from languages like English is the interpretation in this regard of what are called indeterminate lexical encodings, which include bare NPs and cardinality expressions. They by themselves are neutral in respect of the interpretation of identifiability. For indeterminate expressions, there is a strong but seldom absolute correlation between the interpretation of identiability or nonidentfiability and their occurrence in different positions in a sentence. Unlike the cases with several other languages without articles like Czech, Hindi, and Indonesian, the features of definiteness and indefiniteness cannot be obligatorily and uniquely specified for nominal expressions in Chinese. The findings in this article lead to the conclusion that definiteness as a grammatical category defined in the narrow sense has not been fully developed in Chinese.
Keyword Language & Linguistics Theory
Applied Linguistics
Discourse Basis
Q-Index Code C1

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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 13:53:58 EST