Oct 9, 2014

A study on the sentential topic in modern Chinese


Form the perspective of the Three-dimension theory and absorbing the essence of other linguistic theories and methods at home and abroad, this dissertation has made a thorough and systematic study on the concept topic and the topic-comment structure in an utterance in the Chinese language. In addition to the deep-going discussion on the definition, nature and function of topic, the dissertation focuses on exploring more accurate and reasonable conclusions and explanations to some language phenomena in reference to the characteristics of the topic of an utterance in the point of view that the elements of syntactic, semantic and pragmatics interact with each other, which will bring about a better understanding of the nature of the Chines language. The dissertation holds that topic is a pragmatic category of an utterance which has something to do with the syntactic structure of the sentence. Topic is what the utterance is gong to be about, usually something identifiable and known. It reflects the choice and shift of the viewpoint of the speaker and it acts as something like a location and direction indicator in the speech to the listener. The dissertation elaborates the formal criterion of "shi bu shi" as the dividing line between the topic and comment, and describes the characteristics and types of the topic. It also expounds the "multi-topic" theory and the relationship between the topic and the sub-topic. The dissertation discusses the generation process of the topic and its semantic, syntactic and pragmatic conditions, and the relationship between the topic-comment structure and the information structure and the psychology structure. It highlights the interactions of the syntactic,, semantic and pragmatic structures, and explains some language phenomena in reference to the characteristics of the topic of an utterance, which include :the position of the correlative adverbs, the position of the prepositional phrase, the position of the modality words, the semantic redundancy of NP_2 in the pattern NP_1-NP_2-VP,the pattern NP-VP_1-VP_2 in which the VP_2 is a sub-topic, the quasi-set-phrase, and the conditions for a sentence to be self-sufficient. On the basis of the comparison of the topics in Chinese and English, in Chinese and Russian, in Chinese and Japanese and Korean, the dissertation supports the opinion that Chinese is a topic-prominent language. And the application of the study of topic in the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language is also discussed. The study of topic and topic-comment structure is of important theoretical significance and applied value. It shows the interactions between syntactic, semantic and pragmatic dimension, and the potentiality of the pragmatic analysis in the study of the Chinese grammar, and the great vitality and strong explicativeness of the Three-dimension theory. It will help to reveal the linguistic psychology of the Chinese people and the nature of the Chinese language, and improve the communicative effect among the natives and promote the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language. Part text error
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