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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton September 1, 2011

A Semiotic Study of the Idiosyncratic ”CHI + NP“ Construction in Chinese

Xueliang Xiong
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies


The Chinese verb CHI (吃) can be virtually used with any NP in the language and the numerous papers published on this issue up to now basically focus on metonymy or metaphor interpretations for this phenomenon. In this paper, however, the author first categorizes the CHI + NP construction into ET (extended) and CT (contextualized) types, and then discusses the location dilemma (i. e. ET1 sub-type) and the semantic ubiquity (i. e. CT sub-type) typical of Chinese in order to show that the location dilemma (e. g. CHI immediately followed by a location NP) is neither the consequence of some vacuous syntactic raising nor an economy-driven equivalent of its counterpart longer expression. The ET1 use of CHI connotes an abstract sense of direction. Likewise, the semantic ubiquity (i. e. novel uses of CHI) of the CT category is not blindly metaphorical either but is better understood as the Chinese proclivity for eating and culinary arts projecting onto some pertinent cultural-linguistic fossilization and pragmatic entrenchment. The author believes that the idiosyncratic behavior and the rambunctiousness of the "CHI + NP" construction in terms of its consequent semantic omnipotence of the CT category is a further cognitive extension from the ET2 sense of DEPEND-UPON. Such flexible sense extensions are sanctioned further by the comparatively loose Chinese V + NP combination in general.

Published Online: 2011-9-1
Published in Print: 2011-9-1

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