Topic Chains in Chinese
University of North Carolina
Chinese is a discourse-oriented language. It has relatively few morphological and syntactic rules, but more constructions and strategies at the discourse level for the organization of text. The topic chain is such a structure at the discourse level in which clauses are linked not by conjunctions, but by coreferential relationships between overt topic noun phrases and unspecified noun phrases in adjacent clauses. Since the topic chain is used frequently in Chinese, the understanding of the structure is important to the understanding of the language. This book analyzes the structural characteristics of topic chains, their functions in discourse organization and their commonly occurring patterns.
It demonstrates how the patterns are used either individually or in combination to build up units of text at the discourse level. The analysis also has its practical application in second language teaching. It is shown in the second part of the book that the patterns of topic chains can be used as a transitional measure to lead students’ production from the clause to the discourse level. The study is an attempt to investigate how discourse patterns, structures and strategies can be effectively taught in second language classrooms to reflect the discourse-oriented nature of the Chinese language. It bridges the gap between linguistic analysis and language pedagogy.
LINCOM Studies in Asian Linguistics 57. 239pp. 2005
ISBN 9783895863714 (print)