Carriers of uncoded negation in Modern Chinese: an investigation of usage conditions within the framework of linguistic adaptability

Date: 2 June 2015

Venue: Northeast Normal University Changchun, China

Organization / co-organization: Department of Linguistics

PhD candidate: Qiu Yunlong

Principal investigator: Zhang Shaojie, Jef Verschueren

Short description: PhD defence Qiu Yunlong - Faculty of Arts, Department of Linguistics, IPrA Research Center



Abstract

This study explores the usage conditions of carriers of uncoded negation in modern Chinese, i.e. (1) those of individual carriers, as well as (2) those of carriers of uncoded negation in general, to the extent that these usage conditions manifest themselves within a specific set of data. This PhD is part of a joint degree/double degree

This study is undertaken within the framework of Linguistic Adaptability proposed by Jef Verschueren. It is observed that language use is a process of choice-making and the choice of linguistic forms should be interadapted with communicative and linguistic context. Carriers of uncoded negation are approached  as resources chosen under specific pragmatic constraints. Within the framework of Linguistic Adaptability, the usage conditions of carriers of uncoded negation and their different structural representations are investigated in terms of: other presences; utterer’s motivation, utterer’s emotion; interlocutors’ relationship, age, gender, profession, educational background; location, and linguistic context.

This study takes an inductive approach to explore the usage conditions of carriers of uncoded negation in modern Chinese, using as data Wang Gui and An Na (2009). Wang Gui and An Na (2009) is a 32-episode TV series about the love epic between Wang Gui (the male protagonist) and An Na (the female protagonist). Various carriers of uncoded negation in modern Chinese are found in the televized interactions. These carriers include: sentences with a wh- interrogative word, shenme or a variant, zenme or a variant, na or a variant, shui, ji and jishi; 'yes/no' interrogative sentences; alternative interrogative sentences; sentences whose usage violates the Gricean Quality maxim, and sentences whose usage violates the Gricean Relation maxim. Sentences with shenme or one of its variants and sentences with na or one of its variants, when used for negation, have different structural representations.

The findings of this study can be summarized as follows

  • (1) It is found that all carriers of uncoded negation can be used for denying a statement, can be used for negating what the hearer has said, and can be used in combination with some linguistic ingredients related to the negation (for example, utterances with coded negation, other utterances with uncoded negation, etc.)
     
  • (2) It is found that sentences with different wh- interrogative words as carriers of uncoded negation show significant differences in interlocutors’ relationship, gender, educational background, linguistic context as well as utterer’s motivation. In addition, it is found that sentences with wh- interrogative words as carriers of uncoded negation are different from “yes/no” interrogative sentences as carriers of uncoded negation in terms of interlocutors’ relationship. What’s more, it is found that sentences whose usage violates the Gricean Quality maxim and sentences whose usage violates the Gricean Relation maxim are different in terms of interlocutors’ relationship and utterer’s emotion.
     
  • (3) The usage of carriers of uncoded negation is related to contextualization, conventionality and functionality. The significant differences in the usage conditions between carriers of uncoded negation show that uncoded negation is highly contextualized. The commonality in the usage conditions between carriers of uncoded negation demonstrates the conventionality of uncoded negation. The usage conditions of individual carriers of uncoded negation reveal two primary functions of uncoded negation: as carrier of speaker’s attitude and as indicator of interlocutors’ social relationship.

The contributions of this study are threefold

  • (1) This study has extended the research scope of the usage conditions of uncoded negation in modern Chinese. Earlier studies were focused on one particular carrier. In contrast, this study puts all carriers of uncoded negation, as found in a coherent set of data, into one package and approaches them in a holistic way.
     
  • (2) Second, this study has made progress in the methodology of investigating uncoded negation in modern Chinese. Earlier studies of uncoded negation were primarily developed on the basis of observations and deliberations of the researchers, and the relevant investigations were not situated within a coherent framework. By contrast, this study is supported with an extensive and coherent set of data and is undertaken within a coherent theoretical framework.
     
  • (3) Third, this study offers some original findings on the usage conditions of uncoded negation with implications for the discussion of relevant topics, such as the contextualization of uncoded negation, the conventionality of uncoded negation and the functionality of uncoded negation.

Key words

  • Uncoded negation
  • Carriers
  • Usage condition
  • Modern Chinese
  • Linguistic adaptability