Dissertation
Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Grammar

A Cognitive Contrastive Study of English and Chinese Passives

Author WangZhiJun
Tutor XiongXueLiang
School Fudan University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords idealized cognitive model of events contrastive study of English and Chinese passives cognition
CLC H314
Type PhD thesis
Year 2003
Downloads 2228
Quotes 14
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This dissertation adopts a cognitive approach and follows the foundational assumptions of cognitive linguistics "human experience -conceptualization-schematization-linguistic forms" for a contrastive study of English and Chinese passives, aiming at uncovering the deep mechanism that underlies the similarities and differences between English and Chinese passives.Both in English and Chinese, there are several constructions which are called passive. The complex situation in English and Chinese passives makes a contrastive study of them difficult. A definition of the passive at a syntactic level cannot give a unified account of the passives in English and Chinese. A definition of the passive at a cognitive level divides both English and Chinese passives into two categories: prototypical passives including agentless and agentful passives and non-prototypical passives including stative passives and medio-passives. On the basis of a unified description of English and Chinese passives, the dissertation follows the basic assumptions of cognitive linguistics "human experience- conceptualization -schematization-linguistic forms" to explore the underlying principles leading to the similarities and differences between corresponding English and Chinese passives.The dissertation is divided into five chapters:Chapter One addresses the general aims, status quo and problems concerning English and Chinese contrastive studies, focusing on the problems concerning a contrastive study of English and Chinese passives.Chapter Two reviews a formalist study of English and Chinese passives, which is proved to be inappropriate for a contrastive study of English and Chinese passives.Chapter Three undertakes a cognitive study of English and Chinese passives. First, it explicates a cognitive study of the passive. On the basis of a cognitive studyof verb meaning and an idealized cognitive model of events proposed by Croft (1993), voice is defined at a cognitive level. Voice, in essence, mirrors the language user’s perspective on an event. Any event can be construed in any of the following ways by the language user: the causative event view, the inchoative event view and the stative event view. The causative event view (cause, become, state) represents events that frequently occur in human experience with an external cause. For example, the sentence "The rock broke the window" expresses a causative event. The inchoative event view (become, state) represents events that are construed to occur without an external cause. For example, the sentence "The window broke" expresses an inchoative event. The stative event view (state) represents events that in human experience most commonly are inherent properties, not implying any external cause. For example, the sentence "The window is broken" expresses a stative event. The active voice corresponds to the causative event view and the middle voice corresponds to the inchoative event view. The passive is a derived voice. The prototypical or true passive is generated by construing a causative event from the perspective of the affected entity, which describes the same process as the corresponding active but from the perspective of the affected entity rather than the agent/initiator. It can be divided into two classes: agentless passives and agentful passives. In the agentless passive, the agent is absent but implied in the context. The essence of the prototypical passive is agentivity. The stative passive is generated by construing a causative event as a stative event, which describes the resulting state of the affected entity without implication of any external cause. The medio-passive is generated by construing a causative event as an inchoative event where the affected entity is construed as the controller of the event as well, or at least not subject to any external cause. The stative passive and medio-passive are classified as non-prototypical or pseudo-passives where no agent is implied. The pragmatic functions of the prototypical passive include the demotion of the agent, the promotio

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