City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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Non-native Chinese speakers find that Chinese classifiers have same properties, and they just know few such as “個”, which is a general use. Are there more solutions in learning Chinese classifiers?

Group number: CA1 - Gp 7
asked Nov 21, 2022 in Questions about English Grammar by woonymak2 (240 points) | 227 views

1 Answer

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As for classifier reduplication, there are three types of them (Yang, 2015), “AA”, “一AA”, and “一A一A”. The syntactic and semantic differences of “ge” (個) were discussed in Yang’s (2015) research. It is believed that by understanding the semantic functions of classifier reduplication, our interviewee could use them more often and accurately. Here is a summary of the analysis by Yang (2015). 

Key function

“AA”Highlights universality shared by all member of a set

AA”: Highlights universality when occurring with a statice predicate and reflects discreteness 

when occurring with a dynamic one. It has the characteristics of the other two.

AA”: Serves as an adverb; describe the manner of an action 

à reflect consecutiveness of the individual actions carried out by each member of a set

The cognitive schemas proposed by Yang (2015)

           [ “AA” ]                      [ “一AA” ]                [ “一A一A” ]

                                                                                                                                       (Yang, 2015)

The meaning conveyed gravitates towards universality when other classifiers are used in the form of AA”. It is therefore proposed that we could use a scenario strategy in teaching L2 learners of Chinese, while ’ and ‘’ will be used as examples. The analysis will focus on the “AA” and AA” forms. 





e.g., ?本本書都這麼難,我怎麼讀?

‘All these books are so subtle, how should I read them?’


e.g., 桌子放著一本本書。

‘There are books on the table.’ 


e.g., 我把書一本一本地放到書架。

‘I put the books on the bookshelf one by one.’ 



Message: More than one book, and they are placed together

Highlight the consecutiveness of putting books on the bookshelf, not at once

Chinese adopts the pictographic writing system, and that the characters were designed according to a certain matter in the universe of discourse. “一本本” is semantically and cognitively pictured as books placed togetherwhereas “一本一本” usually involve an action and highlight the manner of ‘one by one’. This has something to do with the morphological space between the two duplicated classifiers. 本本 in 

一本本is placed next to each other, while 本 in 一本一本are separated which signifies the ‘one by one’ manner. With these in mind, we could teach learners by showing them a stack of books (the books are in fact placed together.) and tell them that since the books are put closely next to each other, we would use一本本, that 本本 could be pictured as two books positioned together. To conclude, this scenario strategy is considered a more effective way of teaching the use of classifier reduplication in the “一AA” and “一A一A” forms, with teaching aids in real life. 

Apart from the external inputs, it is worth mentioning that learners’ personalities may also affect their performances in acquiring new language features. Learners’ identity, motivation, and attitude are important factors for learning Chinese as a heritage language. For example, when children are forced by their parents to learn Chinese, they tend to lack the motivation to preserve the linguistic inheritance.

answered Nov 21, 2022 by woonymak2 (240 points)

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