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Volume 8, Issue 6, November 2020, Page: 246-250
On the Habitual and Occasional Senses of Mandarin ziji
Jianming Wu, Institute of Linguistics, Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai, China
Received: Oct. 30, 2020;       Accepted: Nov. 11, 2020;       Published: Nov. 19, 2020
DOI: 10.11648/j.ijll.20200806.12      View  17      Downloads  16
In the literature,Mandarin ziji “self” has been fitted into various grammatical categories, such as reflexive pronoun, locally-bound anaphor, long-distance reflexive, adnominal/adverbial intensifier, etc. Different from previous grammatical analyses, the author argues that ziji, as a lexeme, has two types of senses, namely, the primary sense, i.e. “self” and the secondary sense, which includes speaker’s reflection, speaker’s identification, participant’s reflection, unexpectedness, exclusion of others, focused identity, etc. These secondary senses not only help ziji to be linked to a referent in discourse but also distinguish it from the three-way personal pronouns in Mandarin. By resorting to a group of randomly-generated examples from the BCC corpus, the author finds out that speaker’s reflection and speaker’s identification are the most frequent secondary senses of ziji (each accounts for 81% or 61% of ziji), whereas participant’s reflection (i.e. logophoricity) is the lest frequent one (i.e. 0.08% of ziji). Thus, the author defines the former two secondary senses as 常义habitual senses (i.e. senses that are most or very likely to be present when ziji is used in utterances) and the rest ones as偶义occasional senses (i.e. senses that are relatively less likely to be present when ziji is used in utterances). The significance of this demarcation lies in an understanding that there is always an asymmetrical distribution among the secondary senses of a lexeme, which, hopefully, predicts how it may be used or understood in the most relevant way.
Primary Sense, Secondary Sense, Mandarin ziji, Reflexive
To cite this article
Jianming Wu, On the Habitual and Occasional Senses of Mandarin ziji, International Journal of Language and Linguistics. Vol. 8, No. 6, 2020, pp. 246-250. doi: 10.11648/j.ijll.20200806.12
Copyright © 2020 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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