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A Semantic, Discourse and Pragmatic Analysis of the Modern Chinese Lexeme Bing with Pedagogical Application
Chen, Fred Jyun-gwang
This paper presents an analysis of the semantic, discourse and pragmatic functions (corresponding to Halliday’s metafunctions (1985, 1994) -- ideational, interpersonal and textual) of the Chinese lexeme bing with possible applications to language pedagogy. First, the lexeme bing (並) is inspected from both diachronic and synchronic perspectives. Diachronically, the grammaticalization of bing can be explained by way of the following mechanisms: clines/cycles, divergence, persistence and inflection-lag. Analysis of its grammaticalization shows that the original sense of the Chinese character 竝, meaning ‘to stand side by side,’ remains intact while several related meanings having grammatical function have evolved from it. Next, the semantic meanings of bing in modern Chinese are analyzed from a synchronic perspective, the core of which is found to be ju-lie 聚列, meaning 'to congregate'. The most frequent use of bing as a conjunction is to connect two affirmative clauses. In this case, bing appears in the syntactic slot before the subject of the second clause whereupon that subject is then deleted. It was found in this study that when bing acts as a conjunction, it takes a different syntactic position. That is, it appears after the subject and connects two sentences of differing subjects. When bing used as an adverb, however, its primary function is to introduce a negation. On the textual level, bing can be the figure-ground boundary point. Its main cohesive function is extension. Furthermore, when collocating with dan 但 or er 而, its cohesive range can be extended to include several clauses or sentences. The functions of bing when used as a modality adverb in its inverse form are investigated on the interpersonal level. Here, bing reveals the presupposition or wish of the speaker to express a meaning where sentence meaning and the speaker’s intention are divergent. As an adverb, bing appearing before a negation can contradict the presupposition triggered by the context. It also seems to function actively on the conversational level as a means of discourse repair or correction. Conversational repair initiated by either the speaker or the listener is observed. When acting as adverb, bing appearing before a negation shows the speaker's subjectivity on a pragmatic level by way of showing the implicative conunter-persupposition to clarify the speaker’s attitude. Lastly, some suggestions and teaching activities, based on the results of the multi-level linguistic analysis presented, are offered in hopes of contributing to the advancement of Chinese language pedagogy.
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