Noun-anaphora in Chinese texts


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Jiujiu XU


Awarding Institution
Award date2 Oct 2002


In this study, I have sought to identify and describe the type of the noun-anaphora based on earlier ideas developed in 徐赳赳 (1997) and 徐赳赳 and Webster (1999). I have also investigated the distribution of these five types of noun-anaphora, and explored their contribution to constuction of an ideational instantial knowledge system (Matthiessen 1995). Noun-anaphora is divided into five types: identical repetition, partial repetition, apposition, Superordinate/hyponymy and figurative/metaphorial usages. According to the frequency of occurrence of each type of noun-anaphora, they may be ranked in the following order: identical repetition → apposition → partial repetition → superordinate/hyponymy → figurative/metaphorial usages. In chapter 3, I have discussed why certain types occur more frequently. Also investigated were certain constraints on their usage. As in traditional Chinese grammar, there are three potential slots for a noun-anaphor to occur in a clause, the first is subject, the second is object, and the last is adjunct - or prepositional phrase. I have the distribution of each type of noun-anaphora in these three slots. Comprehensive analysis has revealed how each type of noun-anaphora is distributed in the head slot or in the modifier slot. As to their distribution as Theme or Rheme, I have shown how noun-anaphors tend to occur in the theme instead of Rheme, and I have sought to explain this phenomenon with reference to Halliday's (1994) discussion of theme-rheme structure. Matthiessen's (1995) notion of ideational instantial knowledge system has been applied in this study to the analysis of noun-anaphora in Chinese texts. The hypothesis is that the text is organized by spans, hierarchically organized from the smallest at clause level up to the text as a whole. The occurrence of noun-anaphors in a text is conditioned not only by the linear order of grammatical units, but also by their hierarchical structure. The relations between spans are described in rhetorical structure theory. The occurrence of noun-anaphora is influenced by these various relations, that is, by the rhetorical structure of the text. Thematic development, the episode as one of the units of narrative and the temporal system are also shown to be important in explaining how each node as member of a main and global n-chain develops step by step as the text unfolds.

    Research areas

  • Chinese language, Noun phrase, Anaphora