Usage of pronouns, address and relationship
Grevatt & Grevatt
Enhanced by a questionnaire on attitude and usage using thirteen respondents (ten of them native Chinese speakers), this study traces the development of the written pronoun ta1, the expression of ‘it’ in Chinese, and the use of ta1men with non-human reference. The exclusive-inclusive distinction between wo3men and zan2men (including its variants) is examined, followed by an examination of the expression of number when using nin2. Is there a form nin2men, and if so, how is it used? The study also investigates the way speakers feel about certain terms of address and relationship terms largely connected with sex differentiation and marital status, taking into account the complex situation arising from various language reforms and counter-reforms in the People’s Republic of China reflecting the accepted politically correct ideas at different stages.
Some unexpected features of usage among Chinese speakers worldwide are revealed. There are similarities of usage across geographical and social divisions as well as among members of different age groups, although in the area of address and kinship terms, there is an occasional tendency for usage to be linked to geographical distribution. Surprising dissimilarities of usage among speakers of the same geographical and social group are also revealed.
The study also incidentally reveals the diversity of names with which Chinese speakers refer (in Chinese and in English) to what is loosely described as ‘Chinese’ or ‘Mandarin’ by foreigners.
ISBN 9783895868474. Languages of the World 30. 70pp. 2003