The Relevance of the principle of Relevance for Word Order Variation in Complex Referring Expressions in Mandarin Chinese

Lodz Papers in Pragmatics 11 (1):77-104 (2015)
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Abstract

Word order variation in Mandarin Chinese results in two constructions consisting of a noun phrase, a cluster of a demonstrative and a classifier, and a relative clause : the OMN with the RC+DM+NP order and the IMN with DM+RC+NP order. This study used corpus data to show correlational patterns of constructional choices. Specifically, OMN is associated with new and inanimate NPs serving the grammatical role of object in the relative clause that serves the discourse function of identification. By contrast, for IMN, the head NP tends to carry given information, tends to be an animate entity, tends to serve the grammatical role of subject in the relative clause, and tends to have an RC that serves the discourse function of characterization. We suggest that the usage patterns can be interpreted in terms of the cognitive and communicative principles of relevance.

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Chen Liang
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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