Focus Manifestation in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese: A Comparative Perspective

1st Edition

Peppina Po-lun Lee

Published May 21, 2019
Reference - 254 Pages
ISBN 9781138568112 - CAT# Y381968
Series: Routledge Studies in Chinese Linguistics


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One prominent function of natural language is to convey information. One peculiarity is that it does not do so randomly, but in a structured way, with information structuring formally recognized to be a component of grammar. Among all information structuring notions, focus is one primitive needed to account for all phenomena.

Focus Manifestation in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese: A Comparative Perspective aims to examine from a semantic perspective how syntactic structures and focus adverbs in Mandarin Chinese and semantic particles in Cantonese conspire to encode focus structures and determine focus manifestation in Chinese. With both being tonal languages, Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese manifest different morpho-syntactic configurations to mark focus. A general principle governing focus marking in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese is given in the book, which aims to give a better understanding of the underlying principles the two use to mark additive and restrictive meanings, and related focus interpretations. Particular attention is also drawn to the co-occurrence of multiple forms of restrictive and additive particles in Cantonese, including adverbs, verbal suffixes and sentence-final particles. Linearity has been shown to be an important parameter to determine how focus is structured in Cantonese.

This book is aimed at advanced graduate students, researchers, and scholars working on Chinese linguistics, syntax and semantics, and comparative dialectal grammar.

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