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Adapting and testing of Jespersen's syntax model with special reference to Chinese narrative texts

posted on 08.01.2020, 16:07 by Dai Lin
This thesis is aimed primarily at (i) modifying Otto Jespersen's Analytic Syntax model according to the main typological and grammatical features of Chinese; (ii) testing the modified model in Chinese personal narrative texts. Jespersen's syntax model is suitable for many European languages, such as English, French, German and Danish, etc. There are a large number of symbols in his system which can be applied equally well to Chinese without any modification. However, as Chinese is typologically and grammatically very different from European languages, some of the symbols used in Jespersen's system need extension or modification and new symbols are required for the features and categories in Chinese which are not dealt with in Jespersen's model, such as the Chinese aspectual system, compound structures, verbal series, complement constructions and so on. We have discussed in some depth why and how the model has been adapted for the Chinese language and we have tested the modified model in naturally-occurring language - Chinese narrative texts. This thesis shows that while the adapted model is effective in many ways, there are some notable difficulties if the ultimate aim is to use this model's analysis as the basis of an interpretation in English. Some of these interpretation/translation difficulties are highlighted, especially in the context of how clauses are analysed in personal narrative texts. Suggestions concerning the further improvement of the adapted model are also made: more work can be done in the areas of modality and other types of particles. Finally, when putting the adapted model to actual use for the description of naturally-occurring language (personal narratives), it is argued that the occurrence of aspect, verbal series, compound verbs, verbal phrases with complements and sentence final particles, etc. dominates in Chinese personal narratives, and our adapted model is able to show the various structural features of these categories.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • English and Drama


Loughborough University

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© Dai Lin

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A Master's thesis Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy of Loughborough University.




Ronald Chan

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