Topics in Chinese Linguistics: Introduction to Chinese Unit 1: The Chinese Language
Noménclature · Mandarin - Guanhua, an official language used in the court, the language of officials · Guoyu - National language. · Putonghua - Common Speech, Common Language · Huayu or Huawen – Singapore or overseas ·Hanwen – used in Korea and Japan · Zhongguohua – Languages in China · Zhongwen – alternative to Hanyu, focusing on written language
Current status and Future • Hanyu is used by 720 million people • 70% of the population of China speak Hanyu • One fifth of world population speak Hanyu (885 million ) • 12.18.1973, U.N. General Assembly, 28th Session resolution: Chinese is one of the working languages of U.N. • Mandarin belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family • Mandarin will become the major language in Asia in the 21 century.
Varieties • Northern (Mandarin)-Beijing • Wu-Shanghai • Min Southern - Fuzhou • Min Northen - Xiamen • Yue (Cantonese)- Guangzhou • Kejia (Hakka) • Xiang - Changsha • Gan - Nanchang
Features and characteristics • Pronunciation • Vocabulary • Grammar
Pronunciation • The number of syllables are limited: 432. There are 1376 syllables if all tonal variation is taken into account. (Liu, 1957) • Vowels are predominant. • There are four tones in Mandarin.
The number of syllables are limited • The total number of syllables is 432 if tones are not taken into consideration. • There are 1376 syllables if all tonal variation is taken into account • Examples: • a, ma, ba, ren, nong, ti, shang (See Xiandai Hanyu Cidan, the syllable table, pp. 7-12)
Vowels are predominant • Vowels are predominant • lǎo, miáo, lèi • One syllable has at most two consonants • nóng – consonants: [n] and [ng] • There are no consonant clusters • [sp] ‘speak’ • [st] ‘steak’ • [kst] ‘text’
Four tones in Mandarin mā má mǎ mà 妈 麻 马 骂 mmother hemp horse to scold
There are five tones in Shanghai dialect. There are nine tones in Cantonese dialect.
An interesting story written by Chao Yuenren using one syllable 石室詩士施氏﹐嗜獅﹐誓食十獅。氏時時適市視獅。十時﹐適十獅適市。是時﹐適施氏適市。氏視是十獅﹐恃矢勢﹐使是十獅逝世。氏拾是十獅尸﹐適石室。石室濕﹐氏使侍拭石室。石室拭﹐氏始試食是十獅。食時﹐始識是十獅屍﹐實石獅屍。試釋是事。(趙元任《語言問題》商務印書館1980. p.149) Shí shì shī shì shī shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī. Shì shí shí shì shì shì shī. Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì. Shì shí, shì Shī shì shì shì. Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shì shì, shǐ shì shí shī shì shì. Shì shí shì shí shī shū, shì shí shì. Shí shì shì, shì shǐ shì shù shí shì. Shí shì shì, shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī. Shí shí, shǐ shì shì shí shī shī, shí shí shī. Shì shì shì shì.
Translation of “SHI” story The poet Mr. Shi who lived in a stone house liked to eat lions. He swore that he would eat ten lions. He went to the market often to look for lions. At ten o’clock, it happened that ten lions were in the market. At that time, Mr. Shi happened to arrive in the market too. Mr. Shi looked at the ten lions and he shoot the ten lions with arrows. He picked the dead bodies of the ten lions and returned to his stone house. The stone house was wet. He made the servant to clean the room. After the room was cleaned, he began to try to eat these ten lions. Only by the time of eating, he found that these dead bodies of lions were actually stone lions. Try to explain this story.
Vocabulary • Morpheme – the smallest meaningful unit of a language. A morpheme in Chinese is a syllable (may or may not be a word.) • Free Morpheme – can be used as a word by itself • Bound Morpheme – used only as an attachment to another morpheme
老師 學習 學校 醫院 報紙 lǎoshī xuéxí xuéxiào yīyuàn bàozhǐ teacher to study school hospital newspaper Most words in morden Chinese are disyllabic
Most words in ancient Chinese were monosyllabic • 衣yī, clothing, to dress • 車chē, vehicle • 人rén, person • 日rì, sun • 見jiàn, to see • 者zhě, –er • 之 zhī of
Script • Non-phonetic: a character has no clue to its pronunciation • Ideographic or pictographic: characters are derived from the pictures • The writing unit is character. Characters can be written vertically or horizontally, from left to write, from right to left, or from top to bottom
Characters can be written horizontally, from left to write or from right to left
Grammar • Topic-prominent • No inflection • The word order is important S+V+O • The use of measure words (classifiers) • Left-branching
Topic-prominent John, wǒ rènshi . [John, I know.] Zhè běn shū, wǒ kàn le sān biàn. [This book, I read three times.]
No Inflection • English • work, works, working, worked • Chinese • gōngzuò工作
The word order is important S+V+O S V O Māma ài wǒ. 媽媽愛我。 [Mother loves me.] Wǒ ài māma. 我愛媽媽。 [I love mother.]
Large quantity of measure words yī gè péngyou a friend yī zhāng zhǐ a sheet of paper yī bǎ dāo a knife yī tiáo qúnzi a skirt yī jiàn chènshān a shirt
Language in Contact • Influence from Altaic: SVO order • Power to form new words • Load words
Influence from Altaic The word order SOV is influenced by Altaic language
Power to form new words When new words were introduced to Chinese, most words were translated into Chinese and the new words were coined based on the meaning of each character. telephone 電話 diànhuà electric speech television 電視diànshì electric vision computer 電腦 diànnǎo electric brain laser 激光 jīguāng activated beam railway 鐵路 tiělù iron road
load words radar léidá 雷達 model mótèěr 模特兒 pound bàng 磅 shock xiūkè 休克 humor yōumò 幽默 cola kělè 可樂 sofa shāfā 沙發
Words borrowed form other langauges From Miao-Yao 炕 kàng – a brick bed 虎 hǔ – tiger From Altaic 犢 dú – little cow From Proto-Thai 象 xiàng - elephant From India: 葡萄 pútáo - grapes Modern Persian: bāda ‘wine’ Iranian prototype budāwa or bādāwa From India: 茉莉mòlì – jasmine flower Sanscrit: mallikā
Reading assingments • Norman Chapter 1 • Chinese Profile http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/profiles/profm02.htm • The Chinese Languages http://www.chinalanguage.com/Language/chinese.html
Review questions for Unit I 1. Explain the following terms: Guanhua, Mandarin, Putonghua, Guoyu, Hanyu, Zhongguohua, Zhongwen, Huayu 2. How many people speak Mandarin? Where are they? 3. What language family does Chinese belong to? 4. Is Chinese language a unique language? What are the varieties of Chinese? 5. What are typological characteristics of Chinese? 6. Give some examples to show the linguistic features of Chinese in terms of pronunciation, words and grammar. 7. In what way is Chinese influenced by other languages?