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Origin of Chinese Written Modal Particles: A Solution to the Historical Mystery(PDF)

《南京师范大学学报(社会科学版)》[ISSN:1006-6977/CN:61-1281/TN]

Issue:
2013年03期
Page:
125-
Research Field:
Publishing date:

Info

Title:
Origin of Chinese Written Modal Particles: A Solution to the Historical Mystery
Author(s):
MENG Zhao-lian
Keywords:
zhi-hu-zhe-ye(之乎者也) punctuation modal particles Chinese spoken language
PACS:
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DOI:
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Abstract:
Over the past several thousand years, the ancient Chinese written language has developed into a distinct linguistic style, and constituted an indispensible means to pass down the fruit of Chinese civilization, thus making an indelible contribution to the development of Chinese culture. According to the Chinese traditional concepts in linguistics, the ancient Chinese written language followed the lexico-grammatical conventions of the Qin and Han dynasties; the various modal particles of written Chinese such as: zhi(), hu(), zhe()and ye(也), are thought to be the written transcriptions of corresponding spoken modal particles. However, through examining the relevant discussions dating back to the Spring and Autumn Period, we argue that the modal particles of written Chinese are not the transcriptions of their spoken counterparts; on the contrary, they are originally created to play the function of punctuation and mood-marking. Not until the spoken modal particles showed up in the Tang and Song dynasties, did these written markers begin to be used as the modal particle words in the modern sense.

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Last Update: 2013-06-30