Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Three Perspectives on the Study of the Characteristics of the Chinese Language

Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Three Perspectives on the Study of the Characteristics of the Chinese Language

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The development of modern Chinese linguistics has a history of 110 years, if it is considered to start from the publication of Ma Jianzhong's Ma's Grammar (Mashi Wentong) in 1898. However, viewing the development process of Chinese Linguistics against the background of international linguistics study, senior specialists such as Zhu Dexi have found some special phenomena related to the " Indo - European perspective ", that is, the way the theoretical system of Indo- European linguistics has been used to study facets of the Chinese language. For example, the study of the Chinese language has provided a large amount of material to prove the general applicability of Western linguistic theories; thus the study of the Chinese language has abandoned its own traditional linguistic advantages to turn blindly and slavishly to Western linguistics, resulting in the emergence of a large number of "imitation studies".

However, this is not to say that Western linguistic theories do not apply to the research of the Chinese language, but rather to say that the problem lies with the perspectives through which Chinese linguistic study is viewed. To cast off a narrow nationalist focus, we must admit that traditional Chinese linguistics has provided limited theoretical achievements. There are various reasons for this but the most important one is the huge differences between Chinese and Western linguistics in the three aspects of materials, methods, and purposes. The research purposes and methods of Western linguistics are vastly dissimilar from Chinese ones, for the ultimate goal of the latter is to interpret classics, rather than to analyze the features of the language itself. In addition, Chinese linguists do not attach much importance to learning and understanding the languages of other nationalities, which has led to a lack of research on the similarities between languages. Mr. Shen Jiaxuan, a linguist of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has published an academic report titled " Chinese is not English", which emphasizes the features of the Chinese language, and similarly, Yu Guangzhong, a literary expert and poet from Taiwan, once gave a presentation titled " When Chinese Encountered English ", which also stressed the unique nature of the Chinese language. The former is, of course, from the linguistic perspective, while the latter a literary view, but both stress the importance of researching the features of the Chinese language. Considering that international promotion of the Chinese language has been established as China's cultural development strategy, and also considering the establishment of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language (TCSL) as an independent discipline, in our opinion, the study of the characteristics of the Chinese language requires increased attention from academic circles and more in- depth study and theoretical thinking. Without this, it will be difficult to carry out the process of teaching Chinese to foreigners effectively and even harder to reach the future goal of international promotion of the Chinese language.

2. Perspective One: Typological View

In the early 1920s, the famous Swedish Sinologist Bernhard Karlgren made many precise elaborations on the typological layer of the characteristics of Chinese, In Sound and Symbol in Chinese, published by Oxford University Press in 1923, he made numerous key points. These include: Chinese consists of isolated monosyllables with no inflection or adjuncts, but uses plenty of compound words composed of monosyllabic components; it has no real? parts of speech and expresses grammar category by word order; and it has distinct written and colloquial forms.

Since the late 1930s, the research of the Chinese language has attracted much attention, with great scholars such as Li Jinxi devoting themselves to it. In the 1980' s, Lv Shuxiang, Zhu Dexi, Zhang Bin, Hu Yushu, Lin Tao, and other experts published fairly accurate interpretations and conclusions about Chinese phonetic, lexical and grammatical features in the Encyclopedia of China. …

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