Chinese Language · Linguistic Typology · Writing Systems · Cognitive-Functional Linguistics
Liulin Zhang 张榴琳
Language belongs to human beings: it distinguishes homo sapiens from other species.
Writing belongs to civilization: it serves and records the development of human civilization.
Homo sapiens has a history of hundreds of thousands of years, while human civilization only has a history of thousands of years: human beings lived for a long time without writing. Then why do we need writing now? What does writing do to human beings? What is the relationship between language and writing?
As a native Chinese speaker with some knowledge in
English and Japanese, I am trying to answer the above
questions from a contrastive perspective.
· 普通语言文字学 · 语言类型学 · 文字系统 · 语言意识形态 · 认知功能语言学·
The Effects of Writing on Language
Written signs stabilize the basic units of a language, and affects users' understanding of language in general, thus having an effect on language ideology.
On Phonology: Those phonetic units and features that are clearly represented in writing have less variation than those units and features that are not represented in writing.
On Morphology: The smallest meaningful unit of a language, i.e., morpheme, cannot be smaller than one sign in writing.
On Language Ideology: Written signs foreground the linguistic units that they represent in users' perception of language, thus making them salient in language ideology.
Lability of Verbs and
the Change-of-State Construction
Labile verbs can alternate between the transitive use and the intransitive use. They prototypically denote change-of-state events that can either happen spontaneouly or caused by external forces.
The complex event structure of change-of-state events can be profiled in two competing ways in human conceptualization: the agent-oriented way and the theme-oriented way, resulting in the transitive structure and the intransitive structure respectively.
The transitivity of labile verbs is negatively correlated with the likelihood of the spontaneous occurrence of the event.
Analytic languages such as Chinese are particularly rich in labile verbs.