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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

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