Grounding in Chinese Written Narrative Discourse


In Grounding in Chinese Written Narrative Discourse Wendan Li offers a comprehensive and innovative account of how Mandarin Chinese, as a language without extensive morphological marking, highlights (or foregrounds) major events of a narrative and demotes (or backgrounds) other supporting descriptions. Qualitative and quantitative methods in the analysis and examinations of authentic written text provide extensive evidence to demonstrate that various types of morpho-syntactic devices are used in a wide range of structural units in Chinese to mark the distinction between foregrounding and backgrounding. The analysis paves the way for future studies to systematically approach grounding-related issues. The typological viewpoint adopted in the chapters serves well readers from both the Chinese tradition and other languages in discourse analysis.
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Biographical Note

Wendan Li, Ph.D. (1996), is Associate Professor of Chinese Language and Linguistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has published monographs and articles on Chinese language, discourse structure and pedagogy, including Topic Chains in Chinese (Lincom Europa 2005) and Chinese Writing and Calligraphy (University of Hawai’i Press 2010).

Table of contents

List of Tables
List of Figures
Symbols and Glossing Conventions

1 Introduction
 1.1 Theoretical Framework
 1.2 Methodology
 1.3 Organization of the Book

2 Grounding: A Literature Review
 2.1 The Notion of Grounding
 2.2 Grounding in Linguistics
 2.3 Semantic Characteristics of Grounding
 2.4 Grammatical Indications of Grounding
 2.5 Narrative Discourse and Grounding
 2.6 Chapter Summary

3 Grammatical Features of Chinese and Previous Grounding Analysis
 3.1 The Important Notion of Topic
 3.2 Units in Written Discourse
 3.3 Constituent Order
 3.4 Indication of Temporal Location
 3.5 -Le and Le
 3.6 Previous Grounding Analysis of Chinese
 3.7 Chapter Summary

4 At the Verb Phrase Core: Foregrounding Through Bounding
 4.1 Aspect in Chinese
 4.2 Grammatical Aspect Markers and Grounding
 4.3 Situation Aspect and Grounding
 4.4 Bounded Events and Narrative Advancement
 4.5 Chapter Summary

5 In Single-Verb Clauses: Constituent Order and Grounding
 5.1 Clause Types Under Examination
 5.2 Analysis of Constituent Order and Clause Types
 5.3 Statistical Verification
 5.4 Discussion
 5.5 Chapter Summary

6 In Complex Predicates: Grounding of Verb Phrases
 6.1 Serial Verb Constructions
 6.2 Multiple Aspectually Marked Verb Phrases
 6.3 Discussion
 6.4 Chapter Summary

7 In Complex Sentences: Margins Versus Nucleus
 7.1 Literature Review: Margins and Subordination
 7.2 Adverbial Margins in Chinese
 7.3 Discussion: Sentence-Initial Margins With Zero Subject
 7.4 Chapter Summary

8 Related Issues
 8.1 Coercion in Semantic and Aspectual Reinterpretation
 8.2 Interpretations of Postverbal Zai-PPs
 8.3 Foregrounding Function of jiu
 8.4 Clause Integration and Backgrounding
 8.5 Chapter Summary

9 Concluding Remarks
 9.1 Major Findings
 9.2 Contributions of the Study
 9.3 Remaining Issues

Sources of Data and Examples


All interested in the functional analysis of the Chinese language structure and anyone concerned with how written narrative discourse is formed and major events highlighted by grammatical means.


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