Author: Jiang, Menghan
Title: A comparable corpus-based study of grammatical variation between different variants of Mandarin Chinese
Advisors: Huang, Chu-ren (CBS)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2018
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Chinese language -- Dialects -- Mandarin
Chinese language -- Grammar
Department: Department of Electrical Engineering
Pages: 315 pages : illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: This thesis explores the grammatical variations between two of the most important variants of Mandarin Chinese, i.e. Mainland China Mandarin and Taiwan Mandarin. The lexical differences between cross-strait are well documented from different perspectives (e.g., Huang, Simon and Hsieh, 2007; Li, 2010), while the studies of grammatical variations are relatively less advanced. The lack of comprehensive and systematic syntactic variation studies to a large extent is due to the complexity as well as the probabilistic nature of grammatical variations. Therefore this thesis adopts a comparable corpus-based statistical approach, based on the framework of probabilistic syntactic model. Two grammatical constructions -- light verb construction and VO₁+O₂ construction are investigated. For the study of light verb construction, the statistical result of mixed-effect logistic regression model and Chi-square test both show that light verbs from different variants can be effectively distinguished by annotated features. Taiwan and Mainland light verbs display variations not only in the syntactic type of the taken complement, but also in the degree of transitivity. Taiwan light verb tends to have higher degree of transitivity, in terms of transitivity frequency as well as semantic/syntactic properties of the taken complements. Variations in word order have also been observed in light verb construction, the theme of event tends to be appeared after the light verb in Taiwan Mandarin while the theme in Mainland Mandarin significantly prefer to be appeared before the light verb.
For the study of VO compounds, the syntactic differences can also be discovered by mixed-effect logistic regression model as well as Chi-square test. Taiwan VO compounds have shown a higher degree of transitivity, in both transitivity frequency and semantic/syntactic properties of the taken objects. The correlation between transitivity and separation ability is also examined to prove the grammatical variations of VO compounds are to some extent dependent on the degree of lexicalization of these compounds. The relationship between transitivity and alternative competing pattern is also examined to further study the transition mechanism of VO compounds as well as to provide the basis for study of correlation between language change and language variation (based on the Lexical Diffusion Theory (e.g., Wang, 1969)). A multilevel Competition Model is also proposed to account for the variation differences observed in corpus data. The correlation between transitivity and word frequency is investigated to further discover the reason that may affect VO transitivization. The analyses indicate that alternative pattern is the most important factor which can influence the transition rate of VO compound, while word frequency only matters when it does not involve internal competition between alternations. Overall, in this thesis, comprehensive account of grammatical variations on two grammatical constructions between Mainland and Taiwan Mandarin are provided. Large scale comparable corpora, as well as the statistical tool are very effective in underlining the complex and subtle syntactic differences. Furthermore, the results of both constructions show that there is a close interaction between language alternation and language variation, in the sense that grammatical variations are not as simple as feature or behavior difference, but in fact difference in the patterns of alternations. Therefore, the correlation between language variation and language change is also possible to be explored.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
991022164556903411.pdfFor All Users2.28 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Copyright Undertaking

As a bona fide Library user, I declare that:

  1. I will abide by the rules and legal ordinances governing copyright regarding the use of the Database.
  2. I will use the Database for the purpose of my research or private study only and not for circulation or further reproduction or any other purpose.
  3. I agree to indemnify and hold the University harmless from and against any loss, damage, cost, liability or expenses arising from copyright infringement or unauthorized usage.

By downloading any item(s) listed above, you acknowledge that you have read and understood the copyright undertaking as stated above, and agree to be bound by all of its terms.

Show full item record

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: