One of the most relevant differences between the Indo-European languages (like English) and the Chinese language is the presence in the former of the phenomenon of the markedness of the grammatical case. Ancient languages had a high number of case markers, but the majority of modern Indo-European languages have undergone a process of simplification which caused at least a partial loss of them. This linguistic change was the reason for which some English and American authors of grammar books at the end of the nineteenth century discarded this notion altogether. It was right during those years that Chinese linguists came across the notion of “case”: in fact in that period they began to translate Western grammar-books and, by means of that, to import Western grammatical notions into Chinese linguistics. Considering that in contemporary English grammar-books the notion of “case” was still solidly present, although Chinese has no formal indication of the case, Chinese linguists employed this concept as well in the early modern descriptions of Chinese language. The present paper deals with the different strategies for translating into Chinese the terms connected with the notion of “case” and the different explanations provided for them; most of all, this contribution highlights how Chinese linguists tried to employ “case” in the description of Chinese, causing the modification of this concept, in order to fit Chinese grammatical system. The underlying link with historical setting is taken into account as well. The texts under study consist of a number of English grammars and Chinese grammars written in China during the second half of the nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth century.

A Difficult Case – A Sketch of the Different Interpretations of the Concept of 'Case' in the Early Chinese Grammatical Studies

PELLIN, TOMMASO
2011

Abstract

One of the most relevant differences between the Indo-European languages (like English) and the Chinese language is the presence in the former of the phenomenon of the markedness of the grammatical case. Ancient languages had a high number of case markers, but the majority of modern Indo-European languages have undergone a process of simplification which caused at least a partial loss of them. This linguistic change was the reason for which some English and American authors of grammar books at the end of the nineteenth century discarded this notion altogether. It was right during those years that Chinese linguists came across the notion of “case”: in fact in that period they began to translate Western grammar-books and, by means of that, to import Western grammatical notions into Chinese linguistics. Considering that in contemporary English grammar-books the notion of “case” was still solidly present, although Chinese has no formal indication of the case, Chinese linguists employed this concept as well in the early modern descriptions of Chinese language. The present paper deals with the different strategies for translating into Chinese the terms connected with the notion of “case” and the different explanations provided for them; most of all, this contribution highlights how Chinese linguists tried to employ “case” in the description of Chinese, causing the modification of this concept, in order to fit Chinese grammatical system. The underlying link with historical setting is taken into account as well. The texts under study consist of a number of English grammars and Chinese grammars written in China during the second half of the nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth century.
9789027246066
9789027287175
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11393/44887
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