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Ambiguities of the evaluative adverb Jiu

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Item Summary

Title: Ambiguities of the evaluative adverb Jiu
Authors: Tian, Yuan
Advisor: Yao, Tao-chung
Issue Date: Dec 2003
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: This dissertation is based on research that investigates uses of the evaluative adverb jiu in evaluating time and quantity. Uses of jiu in Beijing Mandarin and Taiwan Mandarin are compared and contrasted. In Beijing Mandarin,jiu indicates "early", "a shorttime", or "small quantity" in some cases, and "late", "a long time", or "large quantity" in others. In Taiwan Mandarinjiu 'primarily indicates "early", "a short time", and "small quantity". These differences cause ambiguities and comprehension problems in communication and language learning. My research aims at finding disambiguating factors in Beijing Mandarin and Taiwan Mandarin via three tasks. First, reasons for ambiguities are investigated by comparing different meanings of jiu in Beijing Mandarin and Taiwan Mandarin. Second, the significance of stress when disambiguating meanings in spoken Mandarin is investigated via a listening test. Third effective, disambiguating factors are explored through analysis of a language corpus and listing adverbs that have semantic and pragmatic meanings similar to jiu. A language corpus of around one, and a half million vocabulary items was used to find actual textual examples of the evaluative adverb jiu in Beijing Mandarin and Taiwan Mandarin. This corpus includes two groups of novels: those written by native Taiwanese writers called Bensheng Ren (native resident) who were born and educated in Taiwan, and those written by native Beijing Mandarin speakers. Two software programs PCTMD - Personal Computer Taiwanese-Mandarin Database (Cheng and Gammon, 1998) and Sentence Searcher (TM) (Gammon, 1998) were used to search the corpus for all sentences containing jiu. These sentences were sorted into various categories according to their meanings and functions in order to investigate the similarities and differences of jiu in Beijing Mandarin and in Taiwan Mandarin. This process identified reasons for the ambiguities. A listening test was developed to test the significance of stress when distinguishing different meanings of jiu in oral communication. Twenty native Beijing Mandarin speakers and twenty native Taiwan Mandarin speakers participated in the test. The results show that in Beijing Mandarin stress plays an important role in distinguishing meaning in ambiguous situations. Stress does not, however, work effectively in Taiwan Mandarin. In written communication in the selected texts, a clear context is effective in disambiguation. Besides context, jiu's versatile meanings and functions in Beijing Mandarin are compared to similar adverbs preferred in Taiwan Mandarin such as zhi, cai and yijing in the speaker's evaluation of time and quantity. As above, using stress in oral communication and giving clear context in written communication are effective disambiguating strategies. For Chinese foreign language pedagogy we recommend that jiu be presented in various patterns or constructions instead of as an individual function word.
Description: xv, 237 leaves
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - East Asian Languages and Literatures (Chinese)

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