Papers on Language IV

11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room H

  • Chaired by Wolfgang Behr
  • Nikolai Voropaev, “Precedent Phenomena diangu in Chinese Lingua-Culture”
  • Tilman Schalmey, “Experiments with Automated Dating for Classical Chinese Texts”
  • Yoann Goudin, “From Extended Latin Grammar for Describing Sinograms to the Phonetic Representation of Chinese Language. Tableau des éléments vocaux de l’écriture chinoise by Henry Kurz (1829)”
  • Chiara Bertulessi, “Chinese Lexicographical Discourse and Ideology: A Critical and Diachronic Study of the Xiandai hanyu cidian 现代汉语词典”

Nikolai Voropaev, “Precedent Phenomena Diangu in Chinese Lingua-Culture”

The term of traditional culture and philology of China diangu 典故 denotes classic precedents, plots, quotes from classical sources, aphorisms.
If we analyze the articles of numerous Chinese diangu dictionaries, we can conclude that all of them include units, which in their majority 1) are stable and are regularly reproduced in speech; 2) can be unfolded to the scope of a small text; 3) are always associated with any famous personalities and events (historical or fictional); 4) they name an event (a situation, phenomenon) or character. All of the above, we believe, allows us to correlate the concept of diangu with the concepts of a precedent phenomenon, a precedent statement, a precedent name, a precedent situation.
Diangu occupies an important place in the modern communication of the Chinese.
We believe that it was the ancient precedent phenomena (texts, situations, names, statements) that largely formed some important Chinese behavioural strategies.
Our analysis made it possible to concretise the meaning of the term of traditional Chinese philology diangu.
We also correlated the terms used in Russia with the terms of Chinese scholars and developed a classification and term system for describing and analysing precedent names and other precedent phenomena (diangu) of Chinese-language discourse.
Studying diangu helps to better understand the behavioural strategies and national character of the Chinese.

Tilman Schalmey, “Experiments with Automated Dating for Classical Chinese Texts”

Classical Chinese is often used as a term to refer to the written form of Chinese, reaching from the earliest literature such as the Shijing and Shujing until the beginning of the 20th-century. Aggravated by the continuity of Chinese writing, it appears that the pace of language change is slower—especially for the written language—than for languages with purely phonetic writing systems.
While observations regarding changes in grammar, vocabulary, and spelling are elsewhere used to date texts, the long-lasting, and rigid tradition of Classical Chinese obstructs pinpointing in which century a perceived text was originally written, especially when relying on later or digital editions.
Employing a diachronic word database created from the Hanyu da cidian, enriched with metadata and findings from other corpora, I experiment with methods from the field of computational linguistics to solve these issues. It is found that simple, innovative techniques which allow us to visualise a text as a temporal profile may outperform mathematically more complex machine learning solutions.
In my talk, I will present my conclusions and the resulting software developed as part of my dissertation project. It aims to assist the arduous work of philologists dealing with the temporal classification of texts and may also help to address issues of forgery.
The data produced during this work also sheds new light on the history of the development of written Chinese, especially on the expansion of the lexicon and the rise of polysyllabic words.

Yoann Goudin, “From Extended Latin Grammar for Describing Sinograms to the Phonetic Representation of Chinese Language. Tableau des éléments vocaux de l’écriture chinoise by Henry Kurz (1829)”

This paper proposes to shed a new light on how European sinologists crafted the notion of radical in the 19th century and interpreted the sinograms. Linguistics of Chinese often argues with sinology as soon as it deals with the characters (Budberg vs Creel in T’oung-pao (1939, 1940), Sagart vs. Vandermeersch 2006). These disputes are dated back to jesuits discussions—Bichurin vs. Callieri (in Kozha 2013)—by the new born Chinese philology two centuries ago. But these representations have to be recontextualised: the Extended Latin Grammar advocated by Auroux had a deep influence on grammatical analysis but also for describing the Chinese graphic system with sometimes antonishing conclusions. For this presentation in the field of history of linguistics, we will introduce the rarely mentioned Tableau des éléments vocaux de l’écriture chinoise (1829) by Henry Kurz, member of the just founded Société Asiatique de Paris in which it is possible to observe two trends: in one hand, how training in Latin influenced philogists of the time in distinguishing “radicals” from désinences even in sinograms, but on the other hand, an unexpected interpretation: for the first time in Europe, this was a linguistic representation of Chinese characters based on their readings—and not their meaning—a decade prior to Callery’s Systema phoneticum scripturae (1841) and almost one century Karlgren’s Analytic Dictionary of Chinese and Sino-Japanese (1923). We will discuss how upon the same documentation composed by missionnaries, and through a euro-centric framework based on Latin grammar, Kurz’s publication proposed a very original observation confirmed by linguistics against ideographic interpretations by classical sinologists…still taught nowadays.

Chiara Bertulessi “Chinese Lexicographical Discourse and Ideology: A Critical and Diachronic Study of the Xiandai hanyu cidian 现代汉语词典”

The present paper adopts the theoretical framework of critical lexicography and, specifically, of Critical Analysis of Lexicographical Discourse (Hornscheidt 2008) to carry out a study of the lexicographical treatment of selected entries in the different editions of the Xiandai hanyu cidian 现代汉语词典 (XHC). The XHC, which is compiled by the Institute of Linguistics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, is regarded as one of the most authoritative dictionaries of modern standard Chinese.
This paper is based on the theoretical premise that dictionaries should be understood and analysed as a historically situated form of discourse (i.e. lexicographical discourse) (Benson 2001). Dictionaries are both products of their extra-textual reality and tools playing an active role in the construction and consolidation of those meanings that are considered as correct by the dominant ideology in a specific historical context.
The main objective of the paper is to verify whether the lexicographical discourse constructed by the XHC reflects and interacts with its extra-textual, ideological, and, therefore, political, and social context, also relying on the analysis of a corpus of China’s official political texts. The critical approach is combined with a diachronic perspective, in order to identify changes in the entry-lists and in the definitions in the different editions of the dictionary.
Furthermore, the paper intends to fill a gap in the critical literature on the XHC, in which the studies on the relationship between lexicographical discourse and ideology are, at the present day, still very limited.

Papers on Language III

9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room H

  • Chaired by Tommaso Pellin
  • Vladislav Kruglov, “Opposition Pairs as a Peculiarity of the Classical Chinese Text and Its Phraseological Expression in the Socio-Political Discourse”
  • Tommaso Pellin, “How re 热 are Chinese reci 热词? A Temptative Survey on Most Frequent xinci 新词 and liuxingyu 流行语 in Some Corpora for Chinese”
  • Nerina Piedra Molina, “Pars pro toto: The Description of Individuality in Chinese through the Nose 自 and the Hand 手”
  • Ping-Hsueh Chen, “Chinese Equivalents of the French Causative Lexicon: Corpus, Methodology, Results”

Vladislav Kruglov, “Opposition Pairs as a Peculiarity of The Classical Chinese Text and Its Phraseological Expression in The Socio-Political Discourse”

The opposition of the concepts of traditional Chinese philosophy is manifested in the Classics and sets a certain terminological system, which gives the key to the analysis, interpretation, and translation of these classical texts and, precisely, philosophical terms. The author analyses the system of oppositions of central ontological terms and proposes a new approach to the translation of classical Chinese texts on the example of the commentary to I Ching, The Great Commentary 系辞传. The paper focuses on the analyses of such oppositional pairs, as 天地, 乾坤, 貴賤, 動靜, 剛柔, 象形, 男女, 易簡, 德業. The second step of this research is the revealing the usage of these terms in the form of traditional Chinese ideomatic expression chengyu 成语 in the socio-political discourse on the material of the speeches of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping. One of the results of the study is the fact that these concepts become ideologems in the light of speeches of Chinese politicians. Thus, the author traces the political tradition of modern China and the continuity of the top leadership through linguistic and lexicographic analysis.

Tommaso Pellin, “How re 热 are Chinese reci 热词? A Temptative Survey on Most Frequent xinci 新词 and liuxingyu 流行语 in Some Corpora for Chinese”

Since the first years of the twenty-first century, PRC’s language policy included the creation and maintenance of several linguistic corpora, collecting a vast amount of linguistic material, mined from several sources (written, spoken, video, web, etc.). This system of corpora is the basis for a number of surveys on the Chinese language. Among them, several lists for China’s most frequent neologisms and buzzwords are published every year. The Language Situation in China (LSC) reports, since 2006, including the “Neologisms yearly list”, as well as a number of lists of buzzwords. The lists of the LSC reports encompass a high number of entries, from 200 to 500 every year. Each list indicates the number of tokens of every entry and the number of texts where every entry occurs, within the corpus taken into study.
This contribution aims at looking up, in a number of Chinese language corpora, the most frequent neologisms and buzzwords published in the lists of the LSC reports. The goal of this survey is to verify the rate of their occurrence and, if possible, to explain the major differences. Considering that the corpora on which LSC reports are based seem not to be accessible, the corpora looked up are Cncorpus and Beijing Yuyan Daxue BCC, but also Sketch Engine corpora for Chinese. The corpora of Renmin Ribao and Xinhua were searched as well, inasmuch as these neologisms and buzzwords occur mostly infrequently updated corpora and in press.

Nerina Piedra Molina, “Pars pro toto: The Description of Individuality in Chinese through the Nose 自 and the Hand 手”

Human bodies play a prominent role in the establishment of certain linguistic meanings in the Chinese language. Given the theoretical perspective of cognitive semantics, we want to explore the process of metonymy that Chinese words referred to some body parts such as hands (shou 手) and nose (zi 自), by analysing words containing these two characters and their meanings. The fact that human body parts are one of the main categories of pictograms created according to the Shuowen jiezi has influenced the creation of metonymies as well. This depicts a necessity for representing them but also points out the fact that, as these were some of the first characters ever created, they might have experienced more changes than the ones created after them.
Max Black defended that “the metaphoric meaning is achieved when words appear in a linguistic context different than the regular one”. These words firstly related to body parts have gradually been used in more abstract contexts mainly representing oneself.
After the process of metonymy, a character can bear too many meanings, leaving the original one to a secondary stage and making it necessary to create another character to recover the original meaning. That is the case in zi 自 with the creation of bi 鼻, but it has not happened with shou 手. One possible explanation is that “hand” has not lost its meaning in its entirety, because the words which use shou as a metonymy for a person still keeps the nuances for “handwork.”

Ping-Hsueh Chen, “Chinese Equivalents of the French Causative Lexicon: Corpus, Methodology, Results”

This paper aims to show how Chinese expresses the causality conveyed in the French lexicon. To do this, we will start from the Scale of compactness (Dixon, 2000), which ranks the causative mechanisms from the most compact to the least compact, namely: causative verbs (eng: walk, melt, fr: causer, provoquer); causative morphemes (eng: lie / lay; fr: simplifier, moderniser); complex predicate (fr: faire+Vinf), and causative periphrasis (eng: make somebody cry; fr: forcer qqn à+Vinf). This ranking is an effective filter for the study of causality in languages (cf. Novakova, 2015: 106–107). We applied it to the analysis of French causative mechanisms function in comparison with Chinese. Our contrastive study, based on a parallel corpus (French→Chinese), shows that Chinese has four ways to express causality conveyed in the French lexicon, namely: causative verbs (yǐnqǐ 引起, lead to, zàochéng 造成, cause, etc.); suffixed verbs with huà化 (qiánghuà 强化, intensify, etc.); light verbs + V2/adj. (dǎ duàn 打断, litt. hit break, interrupt, etc.), and causative periphrasis (causative V1+non-causative V2: shǐ 使, make + V2, ràng 让, let + V2, etc.). Following the results, we will propose a range of Chinese functional equivalents of French causative verbs and constructions.

Keywords in Contemporary China

2:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room H

  • Organised by Beatrice Gallelli
  • Chaired by Marco Fumian
  • Beatrice Gallelli, “Jingshen 精神 (spirit): Moulding a Subjective Collectivity”
  • Adrian Krawczyk, “Ideology: Concepts of Ideology in Contemporary China”
  • Bettina Mottura, “Constitution 宪法 as a Keyword in Contemporary China”
  • Federico Picerni, “Worker: Silent as a Riddle”
  • Runya Qiaoan, “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)”
  • Natalia Riva, “A Western-Born Concept’s Journey To The East: Ruanshili 软实力 (Soft Power) In Contemporary Chinese Discourse”

Keywords are those words that we use constantly. Yet, any attempt to provide a univocal definition to each of them ends up in a cul-de-sac, as the words themselves are “elements of the problems” they stand for (Williams, 2015: XXVII). Some may even be the site of fierce political struggles taking place with the ambition to fix their meanings (Laclau, 2005). This is the first of the two panels that bring together scholars from different disciplines to investigate the meanings and performativity of specific keywords in contemporary Chinese discourses. By doing so, each presentation will provide insights into the trajectories of values and ideas leading the construction of Chinese political, social, and cultural reality. While the two panels share the same goals, the presentations included in this first one pertains mostly China’s domestic politics; while the second has to do with China’s “going global”.
In this first panel, two presentations focus on issues that go back to the dawn of Chinese modernity. This is the case of Mottura’s study on xianfa 宪法 (Constitution), a keyword that can be traced back to the late Qing and the republican period, and Gallelli’s discussion on jingshen 精神 (spirit, essence), which concern the vexata quaestio on the relationship between modernisation and “traditions”. Others have to do with the more recent China’s communist-era: Krawczyk discusses the struggle over the meaning of yishixingtai 意识形态 (ideology) in official and intellectual discourses, while Picerni focuses on gongren 工人 (workers) analysing the identity impasse in migrant-workers’ poetry.
Combining perspectives from language, literature, media, and political studies, the panels set up an interdisciplinary dialogue aiming at unlocking the impressive political, cultural, and social changes that have occurred over the past decades in China.

Laclau, Ernesto. 2005. On Populist Reason. London/New York: Verso.
Sorace, Christian; Ivan Franceschini and Nicholas Loubere. 2019. Afterlives of Chinese Communism. Political Concepts from Mao to Xi. Acton: Australia National University Press.
Williams, Raymond. 2015. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Beatrice Gallelli, “Jingshen 精神 (spirit): Moulding a Subjective Collectivity”

“Spirit” is a term which has, at the same time, a precise, and vague meaning, that is contemporaneously practical and untouchable, subjective, and collective. In many societies, the term “spirit” is tightly bound to religion(s), if not completely obsolete. On the contrary, in China, jingshen 精神 (spirit, spiritual) is far from being out-of-date or sporadic: it has been a keyword in the debate on China’s path towards modernity since the turn of the 20th century. Jingshen has been a pivot in the discussion on how to build not only a strong Chinese State but also a solid Chinese nation. After 1949, it did not disappear, even though it was sometimes sidelined to give priority to other ideas and political matters.
Since 2012, soon after the 18th National Party Congress, jingshen has again gained a central position in the political debate. Defined by Xi Jinping as one of the main pillars to achieve the “Chinese dream,” jingshen plays a key role in the blueprint of China’s future.
What is this China’s jingshen of the 21st century? What are the meanings, connotations, and functions attached to it? This presentation will answer these questions and provide insights into the discursive construction of a Chinese jingshen in contemporary official discourse. It does so, by analysing Xi Jinping’s talks delivered between 2012 and 2019 in domestic contexts. This presentation will shed light on how a top-down discourse on jingshen attempts to mould a subjective collectivity based on cultural traits and revolutionary history, and which is able to go deeply into the individual sphere.

Adrian Krawczyk, “Ideology: Concepts of Ideology in Contemporary China”

“Ideology” has always served as a polemical concept in political struggles and at the same time is a key concept in the history of Marxism. Unsurprisingly, it is a highly contested term and a generally accepted definition does not exist. The official celebrations of the bicentennial of Karl Marx`s birth in China in 2018 demonstrated the ongoing significance of Marxism in China as a state ideology. But while one can draw on numerous studies of the shifting ideology of CCP leaders in the reform era and especially on the supposed “return of ideology” in recent years, not a single study deals with conflicts over the meaning of the term in China and their relation to official formulations. Therefore, my paper will focus on the work of influential contemporary scholars of ideology in order to clarify the complex relations of theories of ideology in the academic field and Chinese party orthodoxy. How do Marxist philosophers relate their research to the political reality in China? How do they conceptualise the relationship between the Marxian method as a critique of the ideology of capitalist societies with the urgent need for a new socialist ideology that fits the current state of Chinese society? And do they link the analysis of Western theories of ideology to the development of Chinese socialism and society in general? In answering these questions, my paper shall serve as a window into the highly controversial debates on Marxism and socialism in China.

Bettina Mottura, “Constitution 宪法 as a Keyword in Contemporary China”

Constitution 宪法 has been identified as one of the keywords of political and media discourses in China since the end of 2012 (Xinwen Zhongxin 2018). The importance accorded to the word in the last years aimed at reaffirming the centrality of the constitutional text in the country’s political life, thus building and negotiating the discursive framework in which the fifth amendment to the Constitution was adopted in 2018 and implemented (Mottura 2019).
This contribution will highlight how the contemporary use of the keyword contributes at reinforcing political stability and regime legitimacy in China, drawing on a corpus of speeches and documents, issued by the Chinese Communist Party or by state organs, and of official media texts. It will finally discuss that the function performed by Constitution as a keyword can be traced back to the late Qing and the republican period, thus demonstrating the persistence of its cultural relevance.

Mottura B. 2019. “Costituzione e discorso delle istituzioni in Cina oggi”. Nuovi Autoritarismi e Democrazie: Diritto, Istituzioni, Società vol. 2, pp. 93-108.
Xinwen Zhongxin 新闻中心. 2018. “2018 Niandu ‘Zhongguo Meiti Shi Da Liuxing Yu’ Zhengshi Fabu 2018年度‘中国媒体十大流行语’正式发布” (2018 ‘Top Ten Terms in the Chinese Media’ Officially Released). Beiyu Xinwen Wang 北语新闻网:

Federico Picerni, “Worker: Silent as a Riddle”

Today no less than in the past, “worker” is a central word for China. For a long time, the country has been called “the world’s workshop,” and the persistent importance of its industrial sector, although re-adjusting, cannot be underestimated. Furthermore, the ruling party, 70 years after its nationwide triumph, is still characterised by its constitution as the “vanguard of the working class.” Nevertheless, after 1978 and especially with the transition to a postsocialist system, the composition, role, and socio-political and cultural nature of workers have undergone tremendous changes, most notably with the formation of the ambiguous figure of “farmer-workers” 农民工. In this conceptual quagmire, the extremely interesting phenomenon of contemporary worker literature—distinct from “old” worker literature arisen during the 1950s—can offer a unique, significant perspective on what it means to be a “worker” today.
My paper, taking contemporary (migrant-)worker poetry as an expressive medium relevant both as a form of art and as social discourse, presents an analysis of the representation of the figure of worker in the oeuvre of some contemporary (migrant-)worker poets, I will focus on their relationship with the factory, the rupture, or continuity with “old” worker culture, and, of course, literature itself (with its implications as a medium for the subaltern voice). This literary understanding of the problem is framed within a larger dialogue with other perspectives, above all the philosophical and sociological discussion on the concept of “working class.”

Runya Qiaoan, “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)”

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) might be the most discussed and least defined buzzword of this decade. Since it was first advocated by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013, there has been a constant accusation of BRI: even Beijing does not have a clear and consistent definition of this concept, which makes the “the project of the century” even more mysterious and controversial. This study examines the representation of BRI discourse on Chinese semi-official social media. Through critical cultural discourse analysis of over 50 articles related to the Belt and Road Initiative on a People’s Daily affiliated Wechat public account, we notice two disparate periods denoting a dramatic shift of the meaning of BRI. In the first period (2014-2016), BRI is presented as a China-centered strategy aiming to solve domestic overproduction. In the second period (2017-2019), BRI is constructed into a cosmopolitan initiative to solve worldwide problems. The former aims to persuade the domestic audience and the latter aims to confront international denouncement. Such a shift reveals the fluidity of the BRI representation and it can be argued that the changes are not intrinsically driven; rather, it reflects China’s prompt response to international critics. Thus, this study goes further to assert that the BRI is an empty signifier in Laclau’s and Mouffe’s sense: while the name of BRI remains, any meanings ascribed to the name are contingent and context-dependent.

Natalia Riva, “A Western-Born Concept’s Journey To The East: Ruanshili 软实力 (Soft Power) In Contemporary Chinese Discourse”

In the 1990s, American scholar Joseph S. Nye introduced the theory of soft power as a new aspect of world politics in the post-Cold War era. With culture, political values, and foreign policies as its resource base, “soft power” became a keyword in the realm of international relations discourse.
In China, the theory quickly made its first appearance in intellectual circles. It then gradually penetrated the policy-making and leadership levels and finally became part of the country’s national strategy. Nowadays, debates on soft power are extremely popular in a variety of disciplines among Chinese officials and scholars as well as on the mainstream media.
This paper addresses soft power—ruanshili 软实力—as a keyword of contemporary China. Based on the examination of relevant Chinese leaders’ speeches and a sample of journal and newspaper articles drawn from the CNKI database, it analyses the language used in relation to ruanshili since entering the Chinese discourse.
The analysis aims to reconstruct the journey of ruanshili in the Chinese context, discussing its historical background, process of study and evolution, formalisation, and popularisation. To this end, the formulation “tigao guojia wenhua ruanshili 提高国家文化软实力” (enhance the country’s cultural soft power), officially sanctioned by Hu Jintao in 2007, is examined from different angles (e.g. conceptual, terminological, discursive etc.), with a particular focus on the reinterpretation of ruanshili as wenhua ruanshili 文化软实力 (cultural soft power). This shift and the reasons behind it signal the originality and wider breadth of China’s approach to soft power in which the appeal generated by culture represents the core.

Papers on Language II

11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room H

  • Chaired by Adeline Tan
  • Adeline Tan, “Path Verbs in a Motion Event: A Comparative Approach between Chaozhou Dialect and Standard Mandarin”
  • Pen-Ying Wang, “Tonal Convergence in Southern Hunan Province—Evidence from the Linguistic Strata of Southwestern Mandarin and Tu-hua”
  • Xinyu Zhang, “The Language of Chinese Food”
  • Yaroslav Akimov, “Sensitive Vocabulary in the Contemporary Chinese Media Landscape: Between the Scylla of ‘Linguistic Positivity’ and the Charybdis of Radical Censorship”

Adeline Tan, “Path Verbs in a Motion Event: A Comparative Approach between Chaozhou Dialect and Standard Mandarin”

Chaozhou is a Sinitic language of min group, mainly spoken in Guangdong, in the south-east of China. The purpose of this paper is to describe the use and the syntactic features of path verbs in a motion event. Unlike path verbs in Standard Mandarin, those in Chaozhou can introduce a locative noun phrase (NP) denoting the Goal (the endpoint of a motion) whatever the paradigm they appear (Li 1999). Besides, we show that path verbs in Chaozhou can have the causative use, just like Cantonese (Yiu 2014). We argue that Chaozhou differs significantly from Standard Mandarin in terms of typology of displacement events. This implies that the nature of the verbal complex in Chaozhou may be different from that of Standard Chinese.
Our analysis is based upon data collected through elicited videos showing different scenes of motion events and through the narrations of Pear story.

LI Hai’ou 李海鸥. 1999.〈“回北京去” 跟“翻去北京” “转去北京”〉[Rentrer à Pékin]. In 陈恩泉主编, 《双语双方言 (六) 》, 154–162. 香港 :汉学出版社.
YIU, Yuk-man Carine. 2014. The Typology of Motion Events: An Empirical Study of Chinese Dialects. Berlin/Boston : De Gruyter Mouton.

Pen-Ying Wang, “Tonal Convergence in Southern Hunan Province—Evidence from the Linguistic Strata of Southwestern Mandarin and Tu-hua”

Convergence, a linguistic phenomenon in language contact, can mostly be found in the syntactic system. The languages in contact share the same syntactic structures but the lexical words may be retained. In contrast, convergence in the phonological system has been rarely discussed. What would it be like for convergence in the phonological system? With a focus on the phonological system in Chinese dialects, it seems that the tonal system would be the component to converge most in language contact. Southern Hunan Province has been a diglossic community in which the locals are speakers of Southwestern Mandarin and Tu-hua. The latter serves as the low variety while the former acts as the high variety and the regional lingua franca as well. An analysis on the literal-colloquial readings of the Southwestern Mandarin and Tu-hua reveals that the literal-colloquial distinction mostly remains in initials and finals. For example, in Lanjiaoshan, Hunan, diào(drop) has a literal reading (tiao324) and two colloquial readings (t’iao45, ɖiao324) in Southwestern Mandarin. The same character in Tu-hua has a literal reading (tiao324) and two colloquial readings (t’ie324, tie324). In contrast with the variations in initials and finals, the tones of the six readings show a surprisingly consistent. Five out of the six readings from the different linguistic strata of both dialects are the same. Based on the analysis of the linguistic strata and other dialects in contact, we conclude that the tones would be more susceptible to language contact than initials and finals.

Xinyu Zhang, “The Language of Chinese Food”

Gastronomy consists of the cornerstone of all civilisations and the essence of every culture worldwide. Chinese cuisine has been enjoying growing popularity internationally over the years. The richness of Chinese food not only resides in its delicate and abundant tastes but also in its millenary history, which contributes to the numerous regional cuisines and deep gastronomic culture.
The nomenclature of Chinese dishes is considered as a linguistic art, which is composed of various cultural elements, including culinary techniques, utensils, anthroponyms, metaphors, historical legends and so on and so forth. Moreover, it is denominated following certain patterns, which could be roughly divided into regular, figurative, and mixed kinds.
In this presentation, the language of Chinese food will be interpreted in detail with the hope to reveal the linguistic beauty of the Chinese gastronomic culture.

Yaroslav Akimov, “Sensitive Vocabulary in the Contemporary Chinese Media Landscape: Between the Scylla of ‘Linguistic Positivity’ and the Charybdis of Radical Censorship

If one treats the global phenomenon of political correctness linguistically, two major trends are discernible in Chinese mass media. On the one hand, novel items with new connotational value are formed and deployed instead of unfavoured expressions in order to avoid any unpleasant associations emerged between communicants, namely offence, aggression, and exclusion. Apart from the pursuit of new language forms in the challenging and highly sensitive domains of sex, gender, race, disability etc., “linguistic positivity” is being manifested in broader contexts, cf. euphemistic paraphrasing in English ‘sandwich artist’ for ‘sandwich maker’; or translinguistically in Mandarin 负增长 / ‘negative growth’ instead of ‘decline’. Alternatively, silence, also known as “the ultimate euphemism” (Epstein), can be applied concurrently in an attempt to conceal inappropriate or undesirable content, which is exemplified in the fiercely debated List of Taboos and ‘Use-With-Caution’ Words in News and Information Reports of the Xinhua News Agency 新华社新闻信息报道中的禁用词和慎用词, along with other cases of print or Internet censorship.
Both tendencies apparent in official Chinese media have not been adequately described or thoroughly explored. Mandarin Chinese shows a wide range of formal and non-formal (semantic) mechanisms of euphemistic formation, and Renminribao officialdom style and Xinhua reports provide the easiest access route into the analysis of sensitive vocabulary with graphic examples which have been given a prominent place in this paper.

Various Aspects of Linguistic Exchange between East and West

11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room H

  • Organised by Keiichi Uchida
  • Keiichi Uchida, Chair
  • Keiichi Uchida, “Missionaries’ Attitude to Mandarin (Guanhua)”
  • Masazumi Shioyama, “The Words of Time in Chinese Bible”
  • Kayoko Okumura, “A Study on Some Chinese Affidavits of Foreigners”
  • Keiko Ibushi, “A Study on Missionaries ‘s Chinese Grammar Books”
  • Feng Zhu, “Western Food Culture Written in Missionaries’ Chinese Books”

This panel will concentrate on missionaries’ culture activities in China, including language study, literature translation and Bible translation, etc. between 16–19 century, trying to examine their contributions to Chinese and Japanese Language and culture.

Keiichi Uchida, “Missionaries’ Attitude to Mandarin (Guanhua)”

Westerners (especially missionaries) have been describing the various phenomena of Chinese accurately since early on by comparing them with their own languages. In particular, I have mentioned what is a Mandarin and what is inside the Mandarin, that is, the difference between Northern and Southern Mandarin. These studies have greatly contributed to the study of Chinese. However, most of the research so far has been on the Pekinese Mandarin or northern Mandarin, and not much on the Nankinese Mandarin. In this paper, I intend to discuss in detail the materials of Nankinese Mandarin, which were recently discovered by the author, and the characteristics of Nankinese Mandarin by analysing them.

Masazumi Shioyama, “The Words of Time in Chinese Bible”

This paper will try to examine how missionaries translated the words of time into Chinese which were quite different conceptions between East and West.
China has its own traditional expression of time. Ozaki Minoru 1980 says: Before the Qing dynasty, China divided its time of day into 96 Ke (刻), and also divided it into 12 Chenke (辰刻). One Chenke (辰刻) is equivalent to the current 120 minutes. China has traditionally not had an expression of 60 minutes as one hour. From the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, in coastal cities south of China, expressions such as “~ dianzhong(点钟)”, which indicates 60 minutes, have emerged. Finally, a new expression that lasts 60 minutes as one hour has emerged in China.
In the process of modern East-West language and cultural contact, Western Christian missionaries translated Western time expressions in the Bible text into Chinese time expressions in translating the Christian Bible from Western languages to Chinese Language. This paper looks at how modern Western Christian missionaries translated the time expressions of two different cultures (Western and Chinese). This paper examines the characteristics of the expression of time, using the Chinese Bible of Mandarin versions as a source. From the results of this paper, I can point out the following. The style of the Mandarin versions text was gradually revised from the style of the early Chinese translation of the Bible and changed to the style that closes to the spoken language. All expressions of time in the text of the Mandarin version have converged to traditional Chinese forms of expression. This is exactly the same phenomenon that is observed in the process of translation of the Bible.

Kayoko Okumura, “A Study on Some Chinese Affidavits of Foreigners”

This paper will concentrate on some foreigners’ affidavits written in the Chinese language and will examine these materials from a linguistical point. I will show up some documents of affidavits about the matter of Yunsy (1681–1726), Yuntang(1683–1726) and Portuguese missionary Joan Mourao(1681–1726) that have occurred in China in the 18th century, I will try to organise formats and contents of the whole documents. And then, I will focus on confessions and will examine how described the confession of a foreign missionary in the Chinese language. Finally, through the comparison of style and vocabulary in confessions and non-confidential parts, I would like to mention the relationship between written oral language and written language.

Keiko Ibushi, “A Study on Missionaries ‘s Chinese Grammar Books”

This paper will take some missionaries’ Chinese grammar books as research materials to analyse their attitudes to the Chinese Language. From the 17th century to the 19th century, missionaries and European sinologists wrote many Chinese grammar books in the process of learning Chinese. By comparing Chinese with their own language, they accurately described various phenomena of Chinese. In the early days, although Westerners refer to the traditional Chinese classification of real 實字 and 虛字, they still use the part of speech classification of Western grammar to analyse Chinese grammar, so as to facilitate western Chinese learners. The classification of parts of speech in each grammar book is different, and there are corresponding changes from the 17th century to the 19th century, which shows the author’s attitude to the Chinese Language. In the process of continuous research on Chinese, Westerners have a deeper understanding and strive to grasp the characteristics of Chinese more accurately. This paper intends to analyse the Chinese grammar books and Chinese textbooks written by early Westerners, discuss the characteristics of Chinese described by early Westerners and try to explore the value of Chinese grammar research history.

Feng Zhu, “Western Food Culture Written in Missionaries’ Chinese Books

This paper will use some Missionaries’ Chinese books, such as Giulio Aleni’s Xu Fang Da Wen (1637), Paul Perny’s Dialogues Chinois-Latins(1872), and Xi Fa Shi Pu(1889), to examine how did they introduce western food culture in Chinese from the linguistical point of view. All these materials have talked about the table manner, methods of cooking and names of food in western food, which is quite different from China. Through the comparison of different materials in different periods, I would like to examine the translation terms they have used and especially analyse how did they translate the western food culture by creating some new terms, finally how were these new-terms accepted by the Chinese language and influenced Chinese food culture.

Nothing More than Particles

Uses, Functions, and Acquisition of the yuqici of Modern Chinese
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room H

  • Organised by Sergio Conti
  • Chaired by Carmen Lepadat
  • Sergio Conti, Marco Casentini, “Learners’ Use of Chinese Sentence-Final Particles in a Tandem-Learning Context”
  • Valentino Eletti, Chiara Romagnoli, “The Occurrence of Sentence-Final Particle ba 吧 in Relation to Clause Typology: A Study on Italian Teaching Materials”
  • Carmen Lepadat, “Modal Particles and Right Dislocations: A Pragmatic Analysis of Spoken Mandarin Chinese”
  • Chiara Piccinini, “Analysis of the Main Pragmatic Functions of Utterance-Final Discourse Markers in a Corpus of Spoken Chinese Language Lessons”

Frequently used in spoken language, Chinese modal or sentence-final particles (SFPs) have been described from different theoretical perspectives and in relation to different linguistic phenomena. However, their definition, classification, and functions still constitute a puzzle for linguists. This panel proposes a reflection on the SFPs of modern Chinese from different research perspectives, with special emphasis on actual language as it is used in specific contexts for the purpose of communication and the role of SFPs in Chinese language acquisition.
Conti and Casentini will analyse learners’ production and use of SFPs in spontaneous interactions with native peers, finding a neglectable correlation between SFP accuracy, SFP variety, and time of observation. Eletti and Romagnoli will conduct an analysis on the occurrence of ba 吧 in the teaching materials for Italian high school learners of Chinese, examining the distribution of its discourse functions and discussing the main implications on language acquisition. Lepadat will examine native speakers’ use of SFPs and their relations with postponed or right-dislocated topics. Basing her analysis on a corpus of spoken Chinese, she will describe the relation between modal markers and the degree of activation/identifiability of the dislocated referents. Lastly, Piccinini will report the results of a quantitative and qualitative analysis of SFP use in teacher-learner interactions, in order to identify how mother-tongue teachers employed them in the teaching process and observing if students are able to produce them in a guided context.

Sergio Conti, Marco Casentini, “Learners’ Use of Chinese Sentence-Final Particles in a Tandem-Learning Context”

Due to their “light-weight appearance” (Shei, 2014: 318) and their polysemy (Badan & Romagoli, 2018), the acquisition of Chinese sentence-final particles (SFPs) constitutes a criticality for Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) learners. Nevertheless, the number of studies addressing SFP acquisition and teaching is still limited. Some studies analysed and classified the errors committed by learners (e.g. Xu, 2002), while others provided suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of teaching (e.g. Xie, 2007). In one of the few examples of experimental studies on SFP acquisition, Badan and Romagnoli (2018) found that ne 呢 and ba 吧 are the most challenging for learners, as there is no univocal correspondence between form and functions.
This study aims to analyse the use of SFPs in the interactions between CFL learners and native speakers of Chinese and how it changes over time. The informants were 13 Italian second-year learners of Chinese who participated in the tandem-learning project with Chinese Marco Polo/Turandot students. The data were collected during a three-month timespan and were transcribed according to the methods of Conversation Analysis. The quantitative and qualitative analysis showed that (i) the most frequently produced SFP is the interrogative ma 吗, whereas other SFPs are seldom or never used; (ii) the use of SFPs does not increase in time, but it seems to be tied to other factors such as the presence of (semi-)fixed chunks or the type of task submitted to the participants.

Badan, L., & Romagnoli, C. (2018). “The Acquisition of Mandarin Sentence-final Particles by Italian Learners.” International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching (ahead of print publication).
Shei, C. (2014). Understanding the Chinese Language: A Comprehensive Linguistic Introduction. Abingdon, New York: Routledge.
Xie, B. (2007). “Lüe lun yuqici “ne” de wan ju gongneng zai duiwai hanyu jiaoxue zhong de yunyong.” Shanghai daxue xuebao (Shehui kexue ban), 14(3), 142–145.
Xu, L. (2002). “Waiguo xuesheng yuqici shiyong pianwu fenxi.” Zhejiang shifan daxue xuebao (Shehui kexue ban), 121(27), 89–92.

Valentino Eletti, Chiara Romagnoli, “The Occurrence of Sentence-Final Particle ba 吧 in Relation to Clause Typology: A Study on Italian Teaching Materials”

In the field of teaching Chinese as a second language (TCSL), sentence-final particles, especially ma 吗, ba 吧, and ne 呢 are usually presented at a fairly early stage of the teaching process, thus enabling students to convey different intentions and to perform a range of linguistic acts. From the TCSL perspective, SFPs are also among the first empty words learned by students and share salient graphical features with one another.
This study will focus on sentence-final particle ba 吧, which has been studied from different linguistic perspectives and is still considered to be problematic in its definition (Zhao, 2019) and from the acquisitional perspective (Badan & Romagnoli, 2018).
Shao (1996) found that on a syntactic level ba 吧 mainly appears in three clause types: declarative, interrogative, and imperative sentence. This was confirmed by later studies (Qi, 2008).
In this research we will focus on the occurrence of this particle in the two main teaching materials for Italian high school learners of Chinese (Masini et al., 2016; Ambrosini et al., 2017), presenting qualitative and quantitative data of the distribution of this SFP in relation to the three different syntactical clause types. Our aim is to show if a trend in the functional distribution of ba 吧 is present, in a context where the language input is more normative, such as the one adopted in teaching materials and didactic practices.

Ambrosini, C. et al. (2017). Shuo hanyu, xie hanzi. Bologna: Zanichelli.
Badan, L., & Romagnoli, C. (2018). “The Acquisition of Mandarin Sentence Final Particles by Italian Learners.” International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching (ahead of print publication).
Masini, F. et al. (2016). Parliamo cinese. Milano: Hoepli.
Qi, C. (2008). Xiandai hanyu yuqi fuci yanjiu. Kunming: Yunnan renmin chubanshe.
Shao, J. 1996. Xiandai hanyu yiwenju yanjiu. Shanghai: Huadong shifan daxue chubanshe.
Zhao, C. (2019). Xiandai hanyu jumo zhuci yanjiu. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

Carmen Lepadat, “Modal Particles and Right Dislocations: A Pragmatic Analysis of Spoken Mandarin Chinese”

Right dislocations are constructions in which “a lexical topic NP is positioned at the end of the clause containing the information about the topic referent” (Lambrecht, 1994: 202). For what concerns Mandarin Chinese, it is generally acknowledged that right dislocations follow the sentence-final modal particles when these are present in the utterance (Lee, 2013). However, recent studies on spoken data such as Shi (2017) have pointed out that right dislocations and afterthoughts may also be followed by an additional modal particle in specific communicative contexts. However, while it is clear that right dislocations and modal particles are tightly connected, their relationship has hardly ever been investigated from a pragmatic perspective.
This study seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the relations between referential right dislocations and modal particles in Mandarin Chinese through a corpus-based analysis of ca 22 hours of unscripted telephone conversations between native speakers of Mandarin Chinese (CallFriend Corpus, available from The analysis focuses on RDs’ degree of activation and identifiability, co-referential forms, sentence-types and specific modal particles (a 啊, ba 吧, ma 吗, ma 嘛, ne 呢). The results of the statistical models run with R suggest that: i) referent activation degree patterns with different sentence-types, which in turn can be marked by different modal particles; ii) modal particles can optionally mark a referential constituent to increase textual coherence and item relevance (Chu, 2009; Sperber & Wilson, 1995).

Shi, Y. 2017. “Renshi ‘hua weiba’- Jianyi ‘juzi suipian’ [Speech Tail and Sentence Fragment].” Yuyan jiaoxue yu yanjiu 1: 57–67.
Chu, C. 2009. “Relevance and the Discourse Functions of Mandarin Utterance-Final Modality Particles.” Linguistics and Language Compass 3 (1): 282–99.
Lambrecht, K. 1994. Information Structure and Sentence Form: Topic, Focus, and the Mental Representations of Discourse Referents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lee, K. 2013. “Right Dislocation in Chinese: Syntax and Information Structure”. Korean Journal of Chinese Language and Literature 3: 3–50.
Sperber D., & D. Wilson. 1995. Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Cambridge: Blackwell.

Chiara Piccinini, “Analysis of the Main Pragmatic Functions of Utterance-Final Discourse Markers in a Corpus of Spoken Chinese Language Lessons”

This contribution is a qualitative and quantitative analysis of guided conversations in a formative context. The analysis was carried out considering the occurrence of modal particles and other phrases occurring in utterance-final position used as “discourse markers” (DM, following the definition by Schiffrin, 1987; Fraser, 1999, 2006) in Chinese language (Chen & He, 2001; Deng, 2015; Lee-Wong, 2001; Yang, 2006), taking into account both textual and interpersonal functions (Liu, 2011). DMs were observed in audio-recorded and transcribed interactions between a native Chinese-speaking teacher and a group of Italian students learning Chinese as a Foreign Language in Italy. The interactions have been selected from a corpus of 10 hours of spoken Chinese language during Chinese oral lessons.
We distinguished the occurrences of data produced by teachers and by students with the aim of identifying how mother-tongue teachers employed them in the teaching process and observing if students were able to produce them in a guided context. Results suggested that the ability to use DMs by learners in the interaction is linked to the proficiency of the informants, as shown by previous literature (Tsai & Chu, 2017); moreover, we observed that the conscious use of utterance-final DMs by teachers can be a valuable tool to improve Chinese language teaching methodology.

Deng, Y. (2015), “Huati biaoji ‘a, ne, ba, ma’ de gongneng yanjiu 话题标记’啊、呢、吧、嘛’的功能研究 [Research on the Functions of Discourse Markers a, ne, ba, ma],” Journal of Qinzhou University 30, pp. 29-35.
Fraser, B. (1999), “What are Discourse Markers?,” Journal of Pragmatics 31, pp. 931–952.
Fraser, B. (2006), “Towards a Theory of Discourse Markers,” in K. Fischer (ed.), Approaches to Discourse Particles, Leiden: Brill, pp. 189–204.
Lee-Wong, S. (2001), “Coherence, Focus and Structure: The Role of Discourse Particle ne,” Pragmatics 11, 2, pp. 139–153.
Liu, B. (2011), “Chinese Discourse Markers in Oral Speech of Mainland Mandarin Speakers,” in Y. Xiao et al. (ed.), Current Issues in Chinese Linguistics, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholar Publishing, pp. 364–405.
Schiffrin, D. (1987), Discourse Markers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tsai, P.-S. & Chu, W.-H. (2017), “The Use of Discourse Markers among Mandarin Chinese Teachers, and Chinese as a Second Language and Chinese as a Foreign Language Learners,” Applied Linguistics 38/5, pp. 638–665.
Yang, L. (2006), “Integrating Prosodic and Contextual Cues in the Interpretation of Discourse Markers,” in K. Fischer (ed.), Approaches to Discourse Particles, Leiden: Brill, pp. 265–297.