Language contact and morphosyntactic borrowing : the case study of Hong Kong written Chinese

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Language contact and morphosyntactic borrowing : the case study of Hong Kong written Chinese


Author: Su, Jinzhi
Title: Language contact and morphosyntactic borrowing : the case study of Hong Kong written Chinese
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2008
Subject: Chinese language -- China -- Hong Kong -- Written Chinese
English language -- Influence on Chinese
Chinese language -- Morphosyntax
Department: Dept. of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: xi, 268 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: As a result of language contact between Chinese and English, as well as between Standard Chinese and Cantonese, Hong Kong Written Chinese (henceforth HKWC) has accumulated many unique features and has attracted a substantial amount of research effort. Major differences between HKWC and Standard Written Chinese have been described, classified and discussed in previous studies. However, at the present time, understanding of the nature of the Hong Kong speech community, the features of HKWC, the patterns of morphosyntactic borrowing, the constraints on morphosyntactic borrowing, the factors affecting the morphosyntactic borrowing, and so forth, is still limited and there is clearly a need for further investigation. The present study takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of morphosyntactic borrowing in HKWC that is the result of language contact. It has established two models for describing and explaining morphosyntactic borrowing in HKWC. The first model posits a continuum of Written Chinese in the Hong Kong speech community on a four point scale with HKWC in the middle. The second model explains the process of linguistic borrowing. The Hong Kong speech community is described as a changing multi-level-diglossic system. The relationship between HKWC and the bilingual legal system in the Hong Kong speech community is then explored. HKWC differs from Standard Chinese in many aspects and many HKWC features have been borrowed from English, especially lexical items and certain morphosyntactic structures. The description of morphosyntactic borrowing in HKWC is based on data collected from Hong Kong newspapers and serious literature. In the process of lexical borrowing, two categories of morphemes have undergone changes. One category consists of free morphemes such as 波bo1 'ball' which become productive in compounding and can be combined with other morphemes to form new words. The other category consists of pruned morphemes, which were originally part of a morpheme such as 啡fe1from 咖啡gaa1fe1 'coffee'
Some English words with inflectional morphemes have been borrowed into HKWC as wholes with the inflectional morphemes losing their meanings and functions in the process of nativization. 番屎/番士faan1si6 'fans' and 貼士tip3si6 'tips', which can be used as singular nouns, belong to this category. Some English affixes and bound morphemes are borrowed into HKWC as free morphemes or even phrases. For example, 'mini-' in 'miniskirt' is transliterated into Chinese as 迷你mini. 迷你mini can be seen as a V+O phrase and can be interpreted as 'enchanting you' in Chinese apart from having the English meaning of a smaller version of something. HKWC has also borrowed some syntactic structures from English in the forms of calque, extension and convergence. Calque forms are word-for-word loan translations. Extension forms are derived from the calque forms but have deviated from the structure associated with the English expressions. In convergence forms a borrowed structure is embedded in a Chinese structure. 是時候本港重新輸入活雞 'it is time for Hong Kong to import live chickens again' is a calque form. The head initial structure of English complex nominal phrases is borrowed into HKWC with an invisible expletive subject. 本港銀行是時候提高利率了 'it is time for banks in Hong Kong to raise the interest rate' is an extension of the calque form, because 本港銀行 'banks in Hong Kong' shows up in the matrix subject position when the head initial structure of English complex nominal phrases is borrowed. 春節是時候去看看這位我最敬重的老師 'Chinese New Year is a time to visit the teacher I am most respectful for' is a convergence form. The sentence has the surface structure of a descriptive copular clause, but the predicate is actually a copy of the English structure '(it) is the time to do something'. 春節 'Chinese New Year' occupies the matrix subject position in the copular sentence. Constraints on morphosyntactic borrowing in HKWC have also been discussed in this dissertation. There are two types of constraints. One type is linguistic constraints, which include universal constraints and typological constraints. The other type is sociocultural constraints, comprising status factors, demographic factors, as well as institutional support and control factors. It is hypothesized that a multi-cultural society results in a multi-level diglossic system, which leads to the emergence of more than one embedded language in the process of linguistic borrowing. Also emerging is the situation in which syntactic and semantic equivalents from different sources coexist, compete with each other, and face selection under linguistic and social-cultural constraints. The result of morphosyntactic borrowing is determined by a system of equilibrium between internal factors and external factors; when external factors trigger a process of borrowing, the equilibrium is broken, but this temporary imbalance returns to equilibrium due to internal factors. Although these two sets of factors seem to interact with each other during the morphosyntactic borrowing, the external factors tend to be the determining ones.

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