City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 18 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 18 views

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Position words are nouns used to express direction and position. Structurally, there are two kinds: monosyllabic, they are: ‘dōng’ (east), ‘nán’ (south), ‘xī’ (west), ‘běi’ north), ‘shàng’ (above), ‘xià’ (under), ‘qián’ (front), ‘hòu’ (rear), ‘lǐ’ (inside), ‘wài’ (outside), ‘zuǒ’ (left), ‘yòu’ (right), ‘nèi’ (interior), ‘zhōng’ (middle), ‘jiān’ (between), ‘páng’ (beside). The monosyllabic position words, when combined with the morpheme ‘biān/miàn/tóu’ (side), form compound position words. Our discussion will be confined to nine words that express nine spatial relations: coincidence, interiority, exteriority, anteriority, posteriority, superiority, inferiority, laterality and opposition. These nine position words are: ‘shàngbiān’ (top side), ‘xiàbiān’ (bottom side), ‘lǐbiān’ (inside), ‘wàibiān’ (outside), ‘qiánbiān’ (front side), ‘hòubiān’ (rear side), ‘pángbiān’ (lateral side), ‘zhōngjiān’ (in the middle) and ‘duìmiàn’ (opposite) (note: besides the morpheme ‘bian’ (side), there are morphemes ‘tóu/miàn’ (side), but in the following discussion, for the sake of simplicity, only the position words formed with ‘biān’ will be considered).

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Jun 18 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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1,435 questions
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