Aspects of Discourse Structure in Mandarin Chinese

Author: Ho, Yong
This study examines prominent aspects of discourse, including thematic structure, information structure, and word order. Data consist of transcriptions of interviews with over 20 Mandarin-speaking informants in both institutional and non-institutional settings. Texts of three interviews, representing narrative, expository, and procedural discourse types, are intensively examined and appended. In dealing with thematic structure, emphasis is placed on the sentence-initial devices used to establish the point of departure and on the implications of thematic structure on the conceptual and cognitive processes of Chinese speakers. On discussing information structure, it pays particular attention to the sentence-final devices used by speakers to indicate the focuses of their communicative interest. The study of word order is directed toward the intra-sentential dynamism, which is governed by a number of principles. All of these principles suggest a strong and significant isomorphism between word order on one hand, and real-world events and human perception on the other.


". . . a fine piece of research. . . . the volume can be read as a genuine functional linguistic thesis. . . it is a welcome addition to the new trend of research in Chinese linguistics since early 1980. Ho's English is fluent, as is mentioned in one of the forewords, and his thoughts and concepts are clearly expressed. The book reads so smoothly that it can be recommended for undergraduate as well as graduate reading. . ." - China Review International