Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

International Journal of Legal Discourse

Editor-in-Chief: Cheng, Le

Managing Editor: Sun, Yuxiu

Online
ISSN
2364-883X
See all formats and pricing
More options …

A corpus-based investigation of modal verbs in Chinese civil-commercial legislation and its English versions

Jiamin Pei / Jian Li
Published Online: 2018-07-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijld-2018-2003

Abstract

This paper aims to investigate the distribution of semantic meanings and values of modal verbs in Chinese civil-commercial legislation and its English versions. This is a corpus-based study with two corpora (one is Chinese corpora including 33 Chinese civil-commercial legislative instruments totaling about 343,677 tokens and the other English corpora including 33 corresponding English versions totaling about 254,621 tokens) compiled according to the taxonomic law branches in the People’s Republic of China. The corpus tools, word2vector, AntConc 3.5.7 and SPSS 19.0, were employed for data filtering and analysis. Results of the study show that deontic modal verbs indicating obligation, permission and prohibition are the most frequently used type of modal verbs and the values of Chinese modal verbs and English modal verbs are significantly different. Moreover, the frequency of modal verbs in both corpora reflects the divergence of context culture between Chinese and English. Additionally, the choice of modal verbs in two corpora demonstrates the negotiability, compromise and humanity of Chinese civil-commercial legislation, which conforms to its interpersonal function. Furthermore, throughout analyzing the examples extracted from two corpora, this study attempts to provide some insights to the modal translation, during which the consistency and equivalence in terms of semantic meanings and modal values are of critical importance in legislative translation.

Keywords: corpus study; modal verbs; Chinese civil-commercial legislation; English versions; modal translation

References

  • Anthony, Laurence. 2018. AntConc (Version 3.5.7) [Computer Software]. Tokyo, Japan: Waseda University. Available from. http://www.laurenceanthony.net/software.

  • Baker, Paul & McEnery Tony. 2015. Introduction. In Paul Baker & Tony McEnery (eds.), Corpora and discourse studies: Integrating discourse and corpora, 1–19. Palgrave Macmillan: London.Google Scholar

  • Biber, Douglas & Susan Conrad. 1999. Lexical bundles in conversation and academic prose. In Hilde Hasselgard, Stig Johansson & Signe Okesfjell (eds.), Out of corpora: Studies in honor of Stig Johanson, 181–190. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar

  • Biber, et al. 2000. Longman grammar of spoken and written English. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.Google Scholar

  • Bowie, Jill, Sean Wallis & Bas Aarts. 2013. Contemporary change in modal usage in spoken British English: Mapping the impact of genre. In Juana Marín-Arrese, Marta Carretero, Jorge Arús Hita & Johan van der Auwera (eds.), English modality: Core, periphery and evidentiality, 57–94. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Cao, Deborah. 2009. Illocutionary acts of Chinese legislative language. Journal of Pragmatics. 41. 1329–1340.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Carter, Ronal & McCarthy Michael. 2006. Cambridge grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Chen, Guanglei. 1980. On hengci. Fudan Journal (Social Sciences Edition). S1. 40–51.Google Scholar

  • Chen, Xiaoquan & Jinsong Liu. 2011. The problems of shall and the solutions in legal texts. Chinese Translators Journal. 3. 63–67.Google Scholar

  • Cheng, Le & King Kui Sin. 2008. Terminological equivalence in legal translation: A semiotic approach. Semiotica. 172. 33–45.Google Scholar

  • Cheng, Le & King Kui Sin. 2011. A sociosemiotic interpretation of linguistic modality in legal settings. Semiotica. 185. 123–146.Google Scholar

  • Cheng, Winnie & Le Cheng. 2014. Epistemic modality in court judgments: A corpus-driven comparison of civil cases in Hong Kong and Scotland. English for Specific Purposes. 33. 15–26.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cui, Xiliang. 2003. Event modality and Chinese modal system. In Studies of the Chinese Language (ed.), Grammar study and exploration, vol. . 331–347. Beijing: The Commercial Press.Google Scholar

  • Eagleson, Robert D. & Michele Asprey. 1989a. Must we continue with ‘shall’? Australian Law Journal. 63. 75–78.Google Scholar

  • Eagleson, Robert D. & Michele Asprey. 1989b. We must abandon ‘shall’. Australian Law Journal. 63. 726–728.Google Scholar

  • Gao, Mingkai. 1957. On Chinese grammar. Beijing: Science Press.Google Scholar

  • Gudykunst, William B. 1993. Bridging differences: Effective intergroup communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar

  • Hall, Edward T. 1976. Beyond culture. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar

  • Halliday, Michael A. K. 2008. An introduction to functional grammar. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.Google Scholar

  • Halliday, Michael A. K. & McDonald Edward. 2004. Metafunctional profile of the grammar of Chinese. In Alice Caffarel, James R. Martin & Christian M. I. M. Matthiessen (eds.), Language typology: A functional perspective, 305–396. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Halliday, Michael A. K. & Christian M. I. M. Matthiessen. 2004. An introduction to functional grammar. 3rd. New York: St Martin’s Press.Google Scholar

  • Hoye, Leo Francis. 2005a. “You May Think That; I Couldn’t Possibly Comment!” Modality studies: Contemporary research and future directions. Part I. Journal of Pragmatics. 37(8). 1295–1321.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hoye, Leo Francis. 2005b. “‘You May Think That; I Couldn’t Possibly Comment!” Modality studies: Contemporary research and future directions. Part II. Journal of Pragmatics. 37(9). 1481–1506.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Huang, Mei. 2015. A comparative analysis of Chinese and English language structure in high context culture and low context culture and its influence on college English teaching. Cross-Lingusitic & Cross-Cultural Studies. 8. 43–50.Google Scholar

  • Huddleston, Rodney. 1976. Some theoretical issues in the description of the English verb. Lingua. International review of general linguistics. Revue internationale de linguistique generale. 40. 331–383.Google Scholar

  • Jiang, Shanmin. 1982. The differences and similarities between “NENG” and “HUI”. Journal of Zhejiang Normal University. 3. 92.Google Scholar

  • Knight, Dawn. 2015. E-language: Communication in the digital age. In Paul Baker & Tony McEnery (eds.), Corpora and discourse studies: Integrating discourse and corpora, 20–40. Palgrave Macmillan: London.Google Scholar

  • Krug, Manfred G. 2000. Emerging English modals: A corpus-based study of grammaticalizaion. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Lai, Peng. 2006. A study on the causes of interlingual transfer errors in the acquisition of Chinese modal auxiliaries. Language Teaching and Linguistic Studies. 5. 67–74.Google Scholar

  • Li, Fengqi. 2017. On English translation of prohibition terms in Chinese legislative texts through parallel corpus: A case study of the term. Bude. Language and Translation. 1. 58–68.Google Scholar

  • Li, Kexing. 2011. Legal translations explained. Shanghai: Foreign Languages Press.Google Scholar

  • Li, Li. 2015. A semiotic study on modality in Chinese Criminal Law and its English version. Semiotica. 204. 391–417.Google Scholar

  • Li, Xiaochuan. 2015. A research on the translation of modal meanings between English and Chinese. Changsha: Hunan People’s Publishing House.Google Scholar

  • Liu, Hongying. 2003. Forensic linguistics. Beijing: Beijing University Press.Google Scholar

  • Liu, Jian. 1960. On auxiliary verbs. Studies of the Chinese Language. 1. 1–4.Google Scholar

  • Ma, Liya. 2015. Power analysis of modality in legal discourse. Journal of Changzhi University. 32(1). 79–82.Google Scholar

  • Ni, Shifeng, Le Cheng & King Kui Sin. 2010. Who are Chinese citizens? A legislative language inquiry. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law. 23(4). 475–494.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Palmer, Frank R. 2001. Mood and modality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Palmer, Frank R. 2003. Modality in English: Theoretical, descriptive, and typological issues. In Roberta Facchinnetti, Manfred Krug & Frank R. Palmer (eds.), Modality in contemporary English, 1–17. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Peng, Lizhen. 2007. Modern Chinese modality study. Beijing: China Social Sciences Press.Google Scholar

  • Peng, Xuanwei. 2000. A comprehensive comparison between English and Chinese texts. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.Google Scholar

  • Perkins, Michael R. 1983. Modal expressions in English. Norwood: Ables Publishing Co.Google Scholar

  • Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech & Jan Sartvik. 1985. A comprehensive grammar of the English language. London & New York: Longman.Google Scholar

  • Sarcevic, Susan. 2017. New approach to legal translation. trans by Zhao Junfeng. Beijing: Higher Education Press.Google Scholar

  • Song, Yonggui. 2004. A negation of modern Chinese modal verb “neng”. Fudan University Ph.D. thesis.Google Scholar

  • Takeda, Kayoko & Yasuhiro Sekine. 2014. Translation of Japanese laws and regulations. In Le Cheng, King Kui Sin & Anne Wagner (eds.), The Ashgate handbook of legal translation, 223–236. Surrey & Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Limited.Google Scholar

  • Tiee, Henry Hung-Yeh. 1986. A reference grammar of Chinese sentences (with exercise). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar

  • Tsai, Ynonne. 2010. Text analysis of patent abstracts. The Journal of Specialized Translation. 13. 61–80.Google Scholar

  • Tsang, Chui Lim. 1981. A semantic study of modal auxiliary verbs in Chinese. Stanford: Stanford University.Google Scholar

  • Wang, Xiaolin. 2003. A study of the modal meaning of modern Chinese modal verbs. Fudan University master thesis.Google Scholar

  • Xu, Heping. 1991. A semantic and syntactic study on modal auxiliaries in Chinese. In The 3rd International Conference on Chinese Language Teaching Organizing Committee (ed.), Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Chinese Language Teaching, 1990, 537–552. Beijing: Beijing Language and Culture University Press.Google Scholar

  • Yang, Min. 2008. An exploration of the willingness to power of the interpersonal function of legislative discourse. Foreign Languages and Their Teaching. 4. 5–8.Google Scholar

  • Zheng, Tiangang. 2001. Semantic property and syntactic property of auxiliary. In Xie Wenqing & Sun Hui (eds.), Chinese language and culture study (series 8), 60–73. Tianjin: Tianjin Peoples Publishing House.Google Scholar

  • Zhu, Dexi. 1982. Grammar handouts. Beijing: The Commercial Press.Google Scholar

  • Zhu, Guanming. 2005. Modality and Chinese modal auxiliaries. Shandong Foreign Language Teaching Journal. 2. 17–21.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2018-03-19

Accepted: 2018-04-17

Published Online: 2018-07-18

Published in Print: 2018-08-28


Citation Information: International Journal of Legal Discourse, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 77–102, ISSN (Online) 2364-883X, ISSN (Print) 2364-8821, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijld-2018-2003.

Export Citation

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in