In this paper, the lexical semantics of the pre-modal verb 得 dé and its development into a modal auxiliary will be discussed. Two different positions are available for the modal dé, the default preverbal position of modal auxiliary verbs and a post-verbal position. The analysis of the event and the argument structure of the lexical verb dé reveals that the different modal uses of dé originate from its functions as an achievement verb. In this regard, dé clearly differs from the other verbs of possibility in Late Archaic Chinese. The particular syntacto-semantic constraints of dé can account for its development into both a modal auxiliary verb, and for the particular functions it develops in the Modern Sinitic languages as a postverbal modal marker.
While traditional 1st wave variationist sociolinguists resist citing media exposure as a source of language variation, this experimental study demonstrates that Mainland Mandarin speakers with reported exposure to Taiwanese TV were more likely to rate syntactic constructions found in Taiwanese Mandarin as grammatically acceptable. Data were collected through an online survey consisting of acceptability judgments, written-guise attitude tasks, reported viewing habits, and demographic questions. Principle Component Analysis was deployed to reduce data dimension, which allows for the identification of the key personality traits linked to Taiwanese Mandarin that contribute to the media effects. The results suggest an intertwined relationship in which the effects of media exposure on acceptability judgments are moderated by language attitudes.
In the multilingual situation of Malaysia, standard languages and spoken vernaculars are interacting in intricate ways whereby various spoken languages share a pool of words from Malay, English and Mandarin. Structurally, all languages converge and influence the spoken varieties of the standard languages.
Material and method
This contribution observes the situation from the viewpoint of Hakka speakers. In an analysis of the communicative practices in an extended Hakka family and their non-Hakka friends, the interactions of the various languages in borrowing and code-switching have been analysed and later discussed with speakers. It is expected that standard languages influence language use over time.
The adult generations of the family speak Hakka and effortlessly mix with other languages. Intergenerationally, language change (and possibly language loss) can be observed for Hakka. Mandarin is gaining importance for all speakers. At the same time, loanwords and loan translations from Malaysian, English and Mandarin are frequent. This Malaysian vocabulary is shared by all spoken languages, with only few differences in usage. Standard Chinese is gradually replacing old Hakka words in Hakka.
As can be expected, the spoken languages such as Hakka are quickly losing traditional lexemes and phrases, while Mandarin Chinese as well as English and Malaysian words are used in Hakka; at the same time, spoken Mandarin and spoken English converges structurally with the substratic Chinese dialects.
Literary Sinitic (written Chinese, hereafter Sinitic) functioned as a ‘scripta franca’ in sinographic East Asia, which broadly comprises China, Japan, South Korea and North Korea, and Vietnam today. It was widely used by East Asian literati to facilitate cross-border communication interactively face-to-face. This lingua-cultural practice is generally known as bĭtán 筆談, literally ‘brushtalk’ or ‘brush conversation’. While brushtalk as a substitute for speech to conduct ‘silent conversation’ has been reported since the Sui dynasty (581–619), in this paper brushtalk data will be drawn from sources involving transcultural, cross-border communication from late Ming dynasty (1368–1644) until the 1900s. Brushtalk occurred in four recurrent contexts, comprising both interactional and transactional communication: official brushtalk (公務筆談), poetic brushtalk (詩文筆談), travelogue brushtalk (遊歷筆談), and drifting brushtalk (漂流筆談). For want of space, we will exemplify brushtalk using selected examples drawn from the first three contexts. The use of Sinitic as a ‘scripta franca’ seems to be sui generis and under-researched linguistically and sociolinguistically. More research is needed to unveil the script-specific characteristics of Sinitic in cross-border communication.
Whether China’s rise means Chinese becomes a global language like English is a much discussed topic. Most academics and media commentators argue its character based writing system will prevent this because it is difficult and time consuming to learn. In this article I present four counter arguments informed by an analysis of the language practices, language ideologies and language planning surrounding the Chinese writing system and the characteristics of contemporary global English. Firstly, I argue this view is based on the flawed assumption that all learners of Chinese must learn to read and write, and must do so to a native-like level. This does not reflect the global use of English, as not everyone can read and write, and certainly not to a native-like level. People learn as much English as is required for their purposes, and the same would apply if Chinese was a global language. Next, I argue this view ignores the use of devices like computers and mobile phones which convert Pinyin Romanisation into characters, meaning learners need only learn Pinyin and character recognition, saving considerable time and effort. Thirdly, I show there is a historical precedent for the adoption of characters outside of China in the form of the long-standing use of written Chinese for scholarly and official purposes in Korea, Japan and Vietnam. This occurred due to China’s status as the most powerful country in the region, if not the world, and demonstrates people will learn and use characters if there is sufficient reason to do so. Finally, I argue this view focuses excessively on linguistic properties. The inconsistencies and irregularities of English’s writing system show linguistic properties do not determine whether a language becomes global. I conclude a character based writing system will not, in and of itself, prevent Chinese attaining global language status.