Dramatized Discourse

The Mandarin Chinese <i>ba</i>-construction

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Language is a symbolic system of meanings evoked by linguistic forms. The choice of forms in communication is non-arbitrary. Rather, speakers pick those forms whose meanings best convey their discourse intention. The meaning of the Mandarin <i>ba</i>-construction, argues Jing-Schmidt, is <i>discourse dramaticity</i>, a concept that includes high conceptual salience and subjectivity. The <i>ba</i>-construction and its "syntactic variations" are never interchangeable because contrast in their meanings determines difference in their functions. Quantitative analyses based on authentic data validate the postulation of <i>discourse dramaticity</i>. By taking discourse pragmatics seriously, the dramaticity hypothesis enables a unitary explanation that transcends sentence grammar. The diachronic treatment reveals the syntactic change of the <i>ba</i>-construction as an adaptive process of pragmatization, which raises the issue of linguistic evolution as a result of socio-cultural development. <br />This book will be of particular value to readers interested in the interaction between grammar and pragmatics and to teachers confronting the controversy of the <i>ba</i>-construction in foreign language pedagogy.

Subjects: Syntax; Functional linguistics; Pragmatics; Discourse studies; Semantics; Sino-Tibetan languages

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Cologne

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