A difficult case

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Starting in the mid-19th century, Chinese linguists began to import the West­ern study of grammar by means of translation of Western grammar books. Until then Chi­nese traditional linguistics had produced hardly any research on language struc­tures. One of the most significant differences between the Indo-European languages and the Chinese language is the presence in the former of the phenome­non of grammatical case, often provided with a marker. The present paper deals with the different strategies Chinese linguists used to translate this notion they found in Western grammar books. Second, it highlights how they even tried to employ case in the description of Chinese, but in time this concept was radi­cally modified in order to fit the Chinese grammatical system. The texts in this study consist of a number of Latin, English and Chinese grammar books, written from the mid-19th century to the 1920s.


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