City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 26 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points) | 20 views

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Empirical data of human languages indicate that the speakers of a language have a strong tendency to start with something that is familiar or identifiable and then go on to something new about, or related to, the familiar. This tendency is manifest in the Principle of Referential Precedence, which states that units of high referentiality tend to precede units of low referentiality in a clause

and in the internal word order of a NP (Lu, 1998). For instance, we say 妹妹的一双漂亮的大眼睛。‘Mèimei de yī shuāng piàoliang de dà yǎnjing’ (a pair of beautiful big eyes of my younger sister), but not *妹妹的漂亮的一双大眼睛。‘Mèimei de piàoliang de yī shuāng dà yǎnjing’ (*beautiful a pair of big eyes of younger sister), because the quantifier 一双‘yī shuāng’ (a pair of) has higher referentiality than the adjective 漂亮的‘piàoliang de’ (beautiful). This strategy is another realization of iconicity principles.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Apr 26 by Ariel (34,470 points)

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