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A Discourse and Pragmatic Analysis of Ningke in Chinese and Its Pedagogical Implications
There is a wealth of relevant literature on the subject of the Chinese adverb ningke, mostly focusing on part of speech, structural relation between the two clauses, and pragmatic function. Results of these analyses vary. Thus, this research seeks to clarify any remaining contradictions. Past literature concentrates mainly on complex sentences and pragmatic subjectivity. Therefore, this study is based on empirical data and adopts the theoretical framework found in Halliday’s metafunctions of language, encompassing ideational, textual, and interpersonal functions (Halliday, 1985) in order to examine the adverb at both the discourse and pragmatic levels. Additionally, the author has applied the results to analyze some Chinese-language textbooks, providing pedagogical suggestions for Chinese-language teachers. At the discourse level, the adverb ningke can serve as either an intra-sentential or inter-sentential connector, the first occurring when ningke appears after the subject, and the second when appearing before the subject. In this research, ningke mostly appears after the subject. In terms of focus, intra-sentential ningke establishes a smaller discourse scope, producing an end focus. Inter-sentential ningke, on the other hand, establishes a larger discourse scope, producing a contrastive focus. Furthermore, the main clause of a complex sentence formed with ningke is often omitted. According to the principle of economy, given information or information that may be gleamed through experience need not be mentioned again. “Implicit ningke main clauses” exhibit lexical cohesion with antecedent clauses, producing an end focus, and therefore suggesting that clauses formed with ningke are actually focus clauses. In contrast, “explicit main clauses”, in relation to its subordinating ningke clause, have two types—one which appears before the ningke clause, and one appearing after.The first type, appearing after a ningke clause, is called the “postposed explicit main clause,” and is an unmarked sentence. The second, appearing before the ningke clause, is called a “preposed explicit main clause” , which originates from moving the subordinating ningke clause to after its main clause, and is a marked sentence. In the data, instances of “postposed explicit main clauses” are greater in number than “preposed explicit main clause.” In terms of discourse function, the “postposed explicit main clause” is an focus, presenting foreground information which is to be elaborated on in following sentences. On the other hand, the function of “preposed explicit main clauses” is to connect previous sentences with whatever comes next to form a larger coherent context, thus allowing the postposed subordinating ningke clause to carry focus that is elaborated in the following sentences. Pragmatically, ningke serves as a dynamic modality and functions as a counter-expectation marker. This study further compares the occurrence of modal adverbs in the subordinating ningke clauses and its main clauses (both preposed and postposed), respectively, with the majority of the former falling under the category of epistemic modality, and that of the latter under the category of dynamic modality.
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