Characteristic Analysis of Mandarin Chinese from a Cultural Perspective

Article excerpt


The linguistic study of Mandarin Chinese has added new dimension of language research and enriched linguistic theories. Mandarin Chinese displays a number of typologically salient features which is the manifestation of Chinese culture. Chinese empirical synthesis thinking pattern emphasize in changing, recognition of contradiction and the need for multiple perspectives and rely on experience-based knowledge. Western thinking pattern takes logic and formal testimony is the chief concern and concepts. Thus judgment and reasoning dominate the thinking procedures. Culture and mode of thinking permeates in all aspects of the social practice and contributed the diversity of languages. This paper analyzes the features of Mandarin Chinese in three levels from a cultural perspective. The most important characteristic of Chinese is that it is a parataxis language by contrast of English as a hypo taxis language.

Key words: Characteristic; Mandarin Chinese; Culture; Parataxis; Hypotaxis

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With the development of linguistics study on Mandarin Chinese, more and more evidence shows the specialty of Chinese that is quite different from the accepted characteristic of Indo-European languages. The research findings of Chinese linguistics has added new dimension of language study and enriched the theories. Chomsky said: "Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation." The active part or the key of this process is the people who share the same culture. Thus to explain the specialty of a language cannot separated from examining the Cultural traits of the nation. Culture is intertwined with the mode of thought which is manifested through the philosophy, language, art, literature and daily life activity etc. Every culture and mode of thought is shaped by certain geography and the long history. It permeates in all aspects of the social practice and contributed the diversity of languages. We can roughly divide the world into orient and west area with China and ancient Greek and Rome or Europe and North America in modern time as their representatives. Confucius and Daoism can be considered as the great indigenous philosophical traditions of Chinese spirits which penetrate in all aspects of social activities. The core of Confucianism is humanism. Ren and Li are the key moral values. It emphasizes social harmony which is the great goal of Confucianism. Every individual is taught to play his or her part well with the knowledge of his or her place in the social order. Along with Confucianism, "Daoism" (sometimes called "Taoism") shaped the way people view the world. Chinese believe that change is the most basic character of things. In the Yi jing (Classic of Change) the changing patterns are symbolized by figures. In Daoism it is simply stated as yin and yang. Therefore, the east seems to be more comprehensive thinking, paying more attention to intersecting web of social and personal relationships. It emphasizes the morality, harmony of the society; it promotes the collectivism, responsibility and devotion. In the West, logic was established as a formal discipline by Aristotle, who gave it a fundamental place in philosophy. Values of Western culture have, throughout history, been derived from political thought, widespread employment of rational argument favoring free thought, assimilation of human rights, the need for equality, and democracy. The western way of thinking emphasizes on logic and science, individual achievement, it promotes human right, equality and so on.

These differences are reflected in the languages. Mandarin Chinese is viewed to be Parataxis language (in a paratactic construction, elements of equal status are linked by pronunciation, or juxtaposition and punctuation. …


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