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A Semantic, Discourse, Pragmatic Analysis of the Chinese Lexeme Hao with Pedagogical Applications
the hao construction
the reduplicate form of hao
This study focuses on the different aspects of hao (好) including a semantic, pragmatic and discourse analysis. First, it investigates the semantic and syntactical features of the lexeme hao in Chinese as well as its part of speech. Hao is a complicated lexeme with multiple meanings. XianDai HanYu BaBaiCi (現代漢語八百詞) lists ten usages of hao, including as a stative verb, an adverb and an auxiliary verb. Using Halliday’s metafunctions (1985，1994，2004) as framework, this study aims to move beyond the traditional focus of semantic description and delve into comprehensive research, involving a semantic, pragmatic and discourse analysis of hao. Halliday’s metafunctions are arranged by ideational, interpersonal and textual functions, which correspond to the semantic, pragmatic and discourse aspects in this research. Hao’s (好) various meanings are clarified finally by exploration of its fundamental syntax distribution, diachronic semantics as well as its discourse and pragmatic functions. After delving into these aspects, the various meanings of hao are categorized into different levels, starting with its ideational functions, and working toward its textual and interpersonal functions. Additionally, this paper aims to explore the discourse features of hao (好) in terms of cohesion, coherence and information structure. In complex sentences hao acts as a function word, but in a conversational structure it changes into a “section marker.” As section marker, it indicates the status of the topic or change in topic. In other words, not only can hao can lead to a new topic, subject or to related topics, but it can also indicate the end of the topic. Hao takes on one of its corresponding functions according to its placement (at the beginning, middle or end) in the conversation structure. On the interpersonal level, the pragmatic functions of hao (好) are differentiated by the context in which it appears. When hao is not carrying its original meaning, but is rather marking information as understood by the listener, we speak of its “conversational meaning.” In light of Austin’s speech act (1962), Searle’s indirect speech act (1975), and Leech’s politeness principle (1983), we can see that the core interpersonal function of hao is to seek the “Agreement Maxim,” which provides the fundamental core that connects the various parameters in different contexts. In addition, we discuss the relationship between the hao structure and the indirect speech act. Next, the study examines the reduplicate form of hao (好) from the perspective of contrastive focus and offers an alternative viewpoint to traditional arguments which state that the reduplicate form of a stative verb can vary in degree when placed at different positions in a sentence. Lastly, based upon results of the multi-level linguistic analysis presented in this paper, some suggestions are offered for improving Chinese language pedagogy.
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