"Yuan (distance)" perceived through visual and verbal sign systems : with reference to bilingual catalogue entries of Chinese landscape paintings

遠在視覺與語言符號系統中的感知 : 基於中國山水畫雙語展品說明的研究

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

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  • Chengzhi JIANG


Awarding Institution
Award date17 Feb 2010


The thesis represents an effort to investigate in the light of systemic-functional linguistics, cognitive semantics and visual perception theory the bilingual representations of "yuan (distance)" in catalogue entries of Chinese landscape paintings, with reference to the interplay of visual and verbal sign systems in museum. After a historic sketch of "yuan (distance)" in traditional Chinese painting discourse from the perspective of visual perception, the focus of the thesis is first of all put on the verbalization of visual-auditory distance cues in catalogue entries of Chinese landscape paintings on the basis of the analysis about three different layers on which the representation of "yuan (distance)" can be explored through six interrelations. With the aid of a cognitive functional model, then, linguistic investigation is to be conducted to exam the ways spatial expressions are formulated and focused in bilingual catalogue entries. The results are of value to expand knowledge concerning the implications of the organization and focalization of spatial information on the perception of "yuan (distance)". Finally, the cognitive functional model is applied to a case study. The analysis of the case focuses on: (1) visual distance cues in service of the representation of "yuan (distance)" in Guo Xi’s Early Spring; (2) the visual-verbal relevance between the artwork and its bilingual catalogue entries; and (3) the interlingual, intralingual and intertextual relations between different catalogue entries. The findings are: first, in bilingual representation, the shift of language may bring about the shift of information frames, as well as the shift of information perception. Thus, Chinese and English catalogue entries of the same artwork may be differentiated from one another in terms of their interlingual or intertextual properties. Second, both Chinese and English texts attempt to reflect in linguistic description the major features of Chinese landscape painting in three aspects: ordering, humanizing, and symbolizing pictorial objects in the landscape. This may contribute to elucidate how the communicative task is fulfilled in the production of the catalogue entry.

    Research areas

  • Landscape painting, Chinese, Yuan (The Chinese word), Catalogs, Language, Semiotics