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Le Nombre et la Personne: Le Cas du Suffixe -men en Chinois

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Authors
Iljic, Robert
Issue Date
2004
Publisher
서울대학교 언어교육원
Citation
어학연구, Vol.40 No.3, pp. 737-780
Keywords
numberpersonpluralquantificationmodalitypoint of viewchinesetypology
Abstract
The plural suffix -men in Mandarin Chinese affords a remarkable example of the interaction between the grammatical categories of number and person. While it is regularly added to personal pronouns, it is non-obligatory and highly constrained with nouns (humanness, definiteness, nouns may not be preceded by numerals). It is a necessary condition for -men to occur that n > 1, but this is not sufficient. Other more subjective factors (involving the speaker) are also at work. Indeed, the presence of the suffix induces modal effects. This article offers a detailed analysis of -men in Chinese. It shows that it has a collective meaning and that it is pronominal or deictic in nature. The group referred to is constructed either relative to the speaker (narrator) or a third party whose point of view the narrator provisionally adopts. What actually triggers the occurrence of -men is the conjunction of number (n > 1) and person (reference to a subject-origin). In narrative contexts, the contrast between Nand N-men is founded upon a shift of perspective. Accordingly, whenever more than one entity is at issue, the opposition is not one of number but of point of view: external versus internal narrative
point of view. This study has major implications for both linguistic theory and typology of languages. It demonstrates that, beside the familar nominal plural based on number, there exists another type of plural, namely the pronominal one,
built with reference to a subject-origin and reflecting a particular viewpoint.
ISSN
0254-4474
Language
English
URI
https://hdl.handle.net/10371/90781
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Language Education Institute (언어교육원)Language Research (어학연구)Language Research (어학연구) Volume 40 Number 1/4 (2004)
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