Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 24 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Four aspects of referentiality are discussed in this chapter: logicophilosophical, semantic, pragmatic, and discourse thematic. While some expressions are generally taken as inherently referential or nonreferential semantically based on their semantics, there are no specific linguistic devices in Chinese to mark the pragmatic referentiality of an expression. Chinese is found to be sensitive to distinction in discourse thematic referentiality. The term definiteness denotes a grammatical category featuring formal distinction whose core function is to mark a nominal expression as identifiable or nonidentifiable. The pragmatic distinction between identifiability and nonidentifiability is expressed in Chinese in terms of distinctive lexical and morphological encodings and in terms of the positioning of nominal expressions in sentences. Unlike many other languages, distinctive features of definiteness and indefiniteness cannot be obligatorily and uniquely specified for nominal expressions in Chinese, leading to the conclusion that definiteness as a grammatical category has not been fully developed in Chinese.

Keywords: referential, definiteness, indefiniteness, discourse thematic, referentiality

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.