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Adams Bodomo, Department of Linguistics, The University of Hong Kong,
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Last updated: July 6,
COMPLEMENT FUNCTIONS IN CANTONESE:
A LEXICAL-FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR APPROACH
LEE Yat Mei
explores issues with regards to the syntax of complement functions in
Cantonese, a variety of Chinese, from the theoretical perspective of
Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG). The central question we are concerned with
is the extent to which LFG is applicable to Cantonese based on the
examination of complement functions.
Syntactic properties of
various Cantonese complement functions have been presented. The following
functions have been identified: OBJ, OBJq, OBLBEN/GO, OBLAG,
Each of them differs from one another in terms of the structural
configuration, categorial realization, and passivizability. Considerable
focus has been placed on the function COMP.
Based on previous studies which introduce the concept of mixed languages as
the motivation of retaining the COMP function,
evidence has been shown that Cantonese is a mixed language. Upon this,
evidence has also been adduced to support the idea of introducing degrees
mixedness in the description of natural languages.
The work also addresses
the limitations concerning the Lexical Mapping Theory (LMT) arising from
some typical constructions in Cantonese predicates like passives,
ditransitives, and locative inversions. On this account, a revised version
of LMT with a rearranged Thematic Hierarchy and two morpholexical rules for
passivization and locative inversions have been proposed for the analysis of
additional pair of argument structure feature [+
p] '(non)propositional' has been proposed
for the LMT in the light of distinguishing COMP
from other argument functions. This move is thought to result in a more
elaborate argument structure theory with three pairs of binary features for
argument function classification and a new markedness hierarchy of argument
functions. This introduction of a new feature represents an initial step
towards maximizing the predictive power of LMT.
In sum, it is shown that LFG, to a large
extent, is a plausible linguistic model.
CHATTING AS AN EMERGENT REGISTER:
A STUDY OF ICQ TALK IN HONG KONG
CHENG Kin Ying, Jeanne
has become a feature of everyday life in the 21st Century and ICQ
(I Seek You) is one of the most popular Internet tools which makes possible
synchronous Internet communication. It is thus not surprising that ICQ
conversation, along with other forms of computer-mediated communication, has
become a hot topic of research in recent years. In ICQ chats, each user has
a unique number and a database called 'history' to store all incoming and
outgoing events. Thus, actual wordings and chat sequences can be recorded
verbatim and extracted from the 'history' folder. In this way, a database of
ICQ conversations, conducted largely in Cantonese and English, has been
collected in Hong Kong. It is observed that a specialized kind of writing
has been developed among Hong Kong ICQ chatters. It is found that ICQ
conversations have some properties of ordinary conversations: they are
spontaneous and colloquial. They also contain distinct linguistic features,
which have come about as a result of the need to represent colloquial
In this research, several
forms of written representations of Cantonese in ICQ chat sessions are
discussed. It is noticed that ICQ chatters sometimes choose to romanize or
translate Chinese characters. The representations are usually not
standardized or codified; instead they are ad hoc and to some extent
an improvisation. Yet, the romanized forms and translations are widely
understood amongst frequent ICQ chatters. It is found that the informal
representations used in these ICQ conversations, though uncodified, are not
without regularities. It is also found that Cantonese-speaking chatters
frequently employ Chinese sentence-final particles in their English
sentences so as to better express what they wish to say. As a result, the
traditional patterns of written forms of Chinese and English have undergone
some modification in Hong Kong.
It is observed that a
considerable number of abbreviations, special symbols and expressions are
used in Internet chatting to represent facial expressions, emotions, and
feelings. These special features contribute to Internet chatting as an
emerging register which has both the characteristics of written and spoken
language. At the same time, ICQ language embodies its own peculiarities
which make it different from other registers.
This study shows that Internet chatting is in the process of evolving into a
new medium. It is developing into a register with identifiable elements and
relatively stable characteristics.
CHINESE AND ENGLISH COMPUTER-MEDIATED
IN THE CONTEXT OF NEW LITERACY
LEE Ka Man
This thesis investigates
aspects of text-based Computer-mediated Communication (CMC) in Hong Kong
within the framework of New Literacy Studies (NLS), a theory of literacy
which studies how language and literacy are used in social context. The
analysis is based on a 70,000-word corpus of email and ICQ messages
(composed in Chinese/Cantonese and English). Two concepts of NLS ¡V
literacy events, occasions where literacy has a role, and
literacy practices, ways of using language and literacy in different
contexts, are examined in detail.
The study first explores
the constitution of a CMC literacy event and proposes that participants,
settings, forms of interaction, codes, subjects of
discussion, artefacts, and underlying contexts are the
basic components. These elements are observed in a case study of a
CMC event in a domestic setting. The research
further reveals that in CMC events, the relationship between speech and
writing is indeterminate since features vary
across messages. It is, however, noted that code-mixing plays a prominent
role in CMC texts in Hong Kong.
The research has
also identified seven literacy practices in text-based CMC. It first
presents these practices under the topics of shortenings, emoticons,
openings and closures, typographical, grammatical, orthographic, and
¡¥coding¡¦ practices. It then examines various cultural and
linguistic specific CMC textual practices, which include:
shortenings (88 ¡¥bye-bye¡¦);
emoticons (>v<, :?);
Transfer of native
intuition to CMC texts (subject omission);
errors which are made by second language learners
of English (e.g. problematic verb forms, inappropriate choice of word
representations (e.g. coined romanisation and transliteration)
are supported by questionnaire and interview surveys which investigate
participants¡¦ thoughts and values on their textual practices. Respondents¡¦
opinions indicate that practices are not the same in all situations, which
reveals the importance of ¡¥context¡¦ in CMC.
Three categories of CMC
context are proposed - contexts of social interaction (¡¥chat¡¦ and
¡¥non-chat¡¦), communicative situational contexts, and
language-specific contexts, which are associated with subsets of CMC
practices according to the nature of the contexts. This characterisation of
CMC context demonstrates its compatibility with the theory of NLS.
The research suggests that language and literacy researchers and
practitioners should recognise the set of new literacy practices in CMC.
Subsequent studies in the Chinese context are
necessary for a more complete understanding of
the impact of CMC language on students' reading and writing habits.
THE ACQUISITION OF RELATIVE CLAUSE CONSTRUCTIONS BY CANTONESE-SPEAKING
LEARNERS OF ENGLISH
CHEUNG Ying Ying, Carina
There has been a growing concern that
students in Hong Kong have low proficiency levels in English. This
constitutes a challenge to language planning policy, which aims at providing
opportunities for extending knowledge and experience through the acquisition
of English grammar. Grammar forms a major component in English language
teaching, and mostly has priority over other parts of the language. The
acquisition of second language syntax is the focus of this research. The
main aim of the present study is to investigate the development of relative
clauses in the interlanguage of native Cantonese learners of English within
the framework of Keenan and Comrie¡¦s Noun Phrase Accessibility Hierarchy
(1977, 1979). The study also seeks to distinguish the features of
Cantonese-English interlanguage which may be attributed to language transfer
from those which may be considered as universal to second language
acquisition. The role of L1 is then examined. The study focuses on the
theoretical concepts of language transfer, comparative study of Cantonese
and English relative clauses as well as language universals from a
issues are investigated with a database of syntactic judgements and
production by a group of Cantonese-speaking students of English as a second
language in Hong Kong. A number of features, namely, the use of resumptive
pronouns, the retention of the head noun, shift of noun functions,
non-adjacency of head noun and relative pronoun, preposition
stranding/deletion, and avoidance of the use of zero relativizer are found
in the data. These features are discussed and it is shown that they are more
attributable to universal and developmental factors than to direct L1
transfer. One important finding of the study is that there exists an
uncommon feature of retention of the head noun. Its presence is suggestive
of lower proficiency levels in the target language.
The SUBJECT FUNCTION IN CANTONESE
LEE On Man
is a study of the syntax of the grammatical function, Subject, in
Cantonese, a variety of Chinese, within the theoretical framework of
Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG) (Bresnan and Kaplan 1982, Bresnan 2001).
is a prominent notion in almost all theories of grammar, and yet there is
no consistent definition of Subject cross-linguistically. Based on
previous literature on Chinese, it is shown that there remain
controversies over the designation of Subject in the language. It
is thus proposed that a set of collective properties is needed to identify
Subject in Chinese. The proposals are made based on evidence from
In the current
study, the collective criteria for identifying Subject in Cantonese
are based on Keenan (1976)¡¦s Subject Properties List (SPL) which includes
coding, behavior and control, and semantic properties. It is found that
not all the 30 properties proposed by Keenan (1976) can be attested in
Cantonese. Indeed, only two syntactic properties, reflexivization and
possessor relativization, are salient for characterizing Subject.
It is concluded that Subject often takes an unmarked preverbal
position, and should be an argument function of its predicate. These two
unique subject properties are also used to examine the subjecthood of an
NP in controversial constructions.
This study also
explores lexical mapping between Subject and its argument role in
certain syntactic structures in Cantonese based on the Lexical Mapping
Theory (LMT) within LFG. The limitations concerning the LMT model are
addressed by three morphological rules for passivization and locative
inversions in Cantonese.
further demonstrates that Cantonese is a kind of null subject language.
The null subject phenomenon is indeed very productive in the language.
Three types of null subjects, including non-referential null subject,
discourse-referential null subject and embedded null subject are
introduced. The null subjects are retrievable by the LFG approach
augmented by Information Structure (Lambrecht 1994). The lexical mapping
between null subjects and argument roles can also be accounted for.
study has proposed a detailed analysis of Subject in Cantonese in
the hope that it will offer new insights for the theoretical framework of
LFG from the perspective of Cantonese linguistics.
Discontinuous Verb-Object Compounds in Cantonese and
This thesis addresses
theoretical aspects of Cantonese and Mandarin Verb-Object Compounds (VOCs).
While most studies in the past approached the topic by discussing the
wordhood status of VOCs and the validity of various criteria in
determining their status, this research explores key aspects of the
syntactic and morphological behaviours of Cantonese and Mandarin VOCs.
There are three main
objectives for this thesis. The first objective is to show that although,
syntactically, a VOC can be interrupted in certain contexts in which the
verbal constituent acts as a predicate and the nominal constituent is a
syntactic object, semantically, and in some morphological aspects, the VOC
is still like a single lexical item with unitary lexical semantics. This
study defends the view that VOCs exhibit both syntactic and morphological
properties. Based on this, a novel interpretation for the discontinuous VO
compounds as idiom-like expressions is provided.
Taking into consideration
the fact that most studies of VOCs were done on Mandarin and nothing in
detail has been attempted on Cantonese VOCs, the second aim of this thesis
is to look at the Cantonese VOCs in detail, together with the Mandarin
VOCs, and to make a comparison between them with regard to the lexical,
syntactic, and phonological aspects. It is found that Cantonese and
Mandarin VOCs reveal both similarities and differences in these two
Based on these
descriptions of VOCs we then offer a revised formal representation of VOCs
within the syntactic framework of Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG). A
critical review of two studies (C.-R. Huang 1990, Her 1997) that have
dealt with the representation of VO constructions in LFG and the proposal
of making a distinction between Verb-Object compounds and Verb-Object
phrases through the argument structure and the use of constraining
equation are presented. The LFG framework is shown to be a plausible
syntactic model to account for the kind of lexical discontinuity observed
within Cantonese and Mandarin VOCs.
The results of the research developed here could have
practical applications and implications for the field of computer
technology for the development of large-scale computational lexicons.