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The semantics and pragmatics of the CHI + NON-FOOD NP construction: Comments on Xiong (2012)

Authors
  • Li, Yanzhi
  • Wu, Yicheng
Type
Published Article
Journal
Intercultural Pragmatics
Publisher
De Gruyter Mouton
Publication Date
May 29, 2014
Volume
11
Issue
2
Pages
279–300
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/ip-2014-0012
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Xiong (2012) presents a pragmatic as well as a semantic account of the CHI + NON-FOOD NP expression in Chinese, an apparently unconventional yet highly productive construction formed by a most frequently used verb CHI ‘eat.’ In this paper we take issue with various points of Xiong s analysis, demonstrating that contrary to a number of his claims, (1) the non-canonical construction is not unique to Chinese, but quite common to Southeast Asian languages such as Vietnamese and Thai; (2) it is indeed the case that the more frequently a verb is used, the more likely its meanings are varied; (3) the verb CHI ‘eat’ is not originally from (kou-) chi ‘stammer or stutter’ in Old Chinese, i.e., the former does not evolve from the latter, for they are merely homonymous; (4) it does not make much sense to stress the difference in meaning between CHI + SHITANG ‘eat dining hall’ and CHI SHITANG DE FAN ‘eat food in the dining hall,’ as the two constructions do share the basic meaning of ‘have meals in the dining hall,’ as evidenced by the corpus data; (5) the formation of CHI SHITANG should be motivated by the principle of economy and the rule of analogy, rather than otherwise.

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