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Cross-cultural and Historical Analysis of the Chinese Subject

Author: ZhangMingMing
Tutor: ChangLingLing
School: Nanjing University
Course: German Language and Literature
Keywords: subject the Chinese subject Western linguistics diachronic analysis
CLC: H04
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2012
Downloads: 98
Quote: 0
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In Western linguistics, the subject is one of the two main constituents of a clause, according to a tradition that could originate from Aristotelian logic, it indicates that what is being talked about, and the other constituent is the predicate. Because of the various definitions in the grammar and the features of languages themselves, the understanding of the subject has been in a process of continuous development. Nowadays, it is explained as a syntactic function with specific grammatical features.The corresponding Chinese concept originated1898in the publication Mashi Wentong. In this book, the author Ma Jianzhong has for the first time introduced the Western grammar into Chinese philological studies. Ma has named the subject concept as qfci in Chinese. However, today we know the subject as zhuyu in Chinese grammar. About this, I could have a lot of questions and understand that this should be one result of the development of modern Chinese grammar.The paper is followed by a diachronic observation of the Chinese subject. It is going to shows us the dynamic development of this concept in the westernization of the Chinese grammar. The observation will be carried out by comparison of the various types of literature. I attempt to see how the concept has developed in Chinese and how it has been influenced by Western grammatical studies. In this sense, the Chinese subject is no longer a pure Chinese grammatical concept but a cross-cultural hybrid.In order to interpret the cross-cultural elements and historical factors, schlors have divided the analysis into three periods. The first period started from1898and ended at1946, during which time the Chinese linguist Lu Shuxiang has published his essay The Subject and the Object:A Problem in Chinese Syntax to discuss the relationship between the subject and the agent. During the first period, I describe the introduction of the Western concept of subject into Chinese, the determination of this term and how Reed-Kellogg Diagram and Three Ranks have influenced the process. The second period is from1946to1979. During this time, I focus on the relationship between the subject and different semantic roles, and compare the ideas of Zhu Dexi about the subject with the dependency grammar and case grammar. During the last period, the reader can see how the subject has distinguished itself from another concept of topic in Chinese.From the research I can draw that the Chinese subject is at the beginning identified with the concept of topic. Then it is related with the semantic roles and the last period is the period of differentiation of the subject and the topic. In each step Ⅰ discussed how the specific grammatical elements from the West have influenced the subject in Chinese. At last I can see that the dynamic changes of the subject are correlated with the Chinese morphology and syntax which are influenced by Western linguistics. Based on this I conclude that the Chinese subject is anyway a cross-cultural concept.

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