Item Details

Situation-bound utterances in Chinese

Issue: Vol 1 No. 1 (2016)

Journal: East Asian Pragmatics

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/eap.v1i1.29098


This article argues that, when analysing formulaic language use in Chinese, besides the three main groups, proverbs (yànyǔ 谚语), idioms (chéngyǔ 成语), and guànyòngyǔ 惯用语 compounds, we need to distinguish and pay special attention to a fourth category: situation-bound utterances (qíngjìng zhuānyòngyǔ 情境专用 语). Situation-bound utterances (SBUs) constitute a unique group within idiomatic expressions because their use is tied to particular situations. SBUs fulfil social needs in conversation. People know that if they use these prefabricated expressions they are safe: nobody will misunderstand them because these phrases usually mean the same to most speakers in a speech community. The article aims to introduce SBUs as a separate category among Chinese formulaic expressions, discuss its relationship to yànyǔ, chéngyǔ, and guànyòngyǔ compounds, explain why it is important to handle it as a separate lexical category, and highlight the unique nature and use of SBUs. However, it is not the goal of the article to give a full and detailed description of the new category, which will need further research.

Author: Istvan Kecskes

View Full Text

References :

Adamson, H. D. (1988). Variation theory and second language acquisition. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

Aijmer, K. (1996). Conversational routines in English: Convention and creativity. London: Addison Wesley Longman.

Altenberg, B. (1998). On the phraseology of spoken English: The evidence of recurrent word-combinations. In A. P. Cowie (Ed.), Phraseology: Theory, analysis, and applications (pp. 101–122). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2009). Conventional expressions as a pragmalinguistic resource: Recognition and production of conventional expressions in L2 pragmatics. Language Learning, 59, 755–795.

Barro, A., Byram, M., Grimm, H., Morgan, C., & Roberts, C. (1993). Cultural studies for advanced language learners. In D. Graddol, L. Thompson, & M. Byram (Eds.), Language and culture (pp. 55–70). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Chao, Y. R. (1968). A grammar of spoken Chinese. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Coulmas, F. (1981). Conversational routine: Explorations in standardized communicative situations and prepatterned speech. The Hague: Mouton.

Cui, X. (In press). Toward a corpus of Chinese classroom teacher language. In I. Kecskes (Ed.), Exploration in Chinese as a second language. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Cui, X. L. (2005). Hanyu shuyu yu zhongguo renwen shijie [Chinese idiomatic expressions and Chinese humanity world]. Beijing: University of Language and Culture Press.

Doi, T. (1973). The anatomy of dependence. Tokyo: Kodansha International.

Dong, W. (1995). The cultural source seeking to the expressions of ‘CHI~’ in Chinese. Language Research, 2, 170–176.

Ellis, N., Simpson-Vlach, R., & Maynard, C. (2008). Formulaic language in native and second language speakers: Psycholinguistic, corpus linguistic, and TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 42, 375–396.

Fillmore, C. J. (1976). The need for a frame semantics within linguistics. Statistical Methods in Linguistics, 12, 5–29.

Fónagy, I. (2001). Languages within language: An evolutive approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Fraser, B. (1999). What are discourse markers? Journal of Pragmatics, 31, 931–952.

Gairns, R., & Redman, S. (1986). Working with words: A guide to teaching and learning vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hu, Y. (2004). Modern Chinese. Shanghai: Shanghai Education Publishing House.

Kecskes, I. (2000). A cognitive-pragmatic approach to situation-bound utterances. Journal of Pragmatics, 32(6), 605–625.

Kecskes, I. (2003). Situation-bound utterances in L1 and L2. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Kecskes, I. (2007). Formulaic language in English lingua franca. In I. Kecskés & L. R. Horn (Eds.), Explorations in pragmatics: Linguistic, cognitive and intercultural aspects (pp. 191–219). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Kecskes, I. (2010). Situation-bound utterances as pragmatic acts. Journal of Pragmatics, 42 (11), 2889–2897.

Kecskes, I. (2013). Intercultural pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kiefer, F. (1985). How to account for situational meaning? Quaderni di semantica, 2 (85), 288–295.

Kiefer, F. (1995). Situational utterances. Keynote presented to the Fifth International Pragmatics Conference, Brighton, UK.

Lu, L. (2001). Understanding happiness: A look into the Chinese folk psychology. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2, 407–432.

Minakova, L., & Gural S. (2015). The situational context effect in non-language-majoring EFL students’ meaning comprehension. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 200, 62–68.

Nattinger, J. & DeCarrico, J. (1989). Lexical phrases, speech acts and teaching conversation. Aila Review, 6, 118–139.

Ortaçtepe, D. (2012). The development of conceptual socialization in international students: A language socialization perspective on conceptual fluency and social identity (Advances in Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Pawley, A., & Syder, F. (1983). Two puzzles for linguistic theory: Native-like selection and native-like fluency. In J. Richards & R. Schmidt (Eds.), Language and communication (pp. 191–226). London: Longman.

Schmitt, N., Dornyei, Z., Adolphs, S., & Durow, V. (2004). Knowledge and acquisition of formulaic sequences: A longitudinal study. In N. Schmitt (Ed.), Formulaic sequences: Acquisition, processing and use (pp. 55–86). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Sweetser, E. (1990). From etymology to pragmatics: Metaphorical and cultural aspects of semantic structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taguchi, N., Li, S., & Feng, X. (2013). Production of formulaic expressions in L2 Chinese: A developmental investigation in a study abroad context. CASLAR Chinese as a Second Language Research, 2 (1), 23–58.

Tietze, A. (1963). Turkish literary reader. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Warga, M. (2005). “Je serais tres merciable”: Formulaic vs. creatively produced speech learners’ request-closings. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 8, 67–93.

Wen, X. (2008). Bridging language and culture: A study of Chinese guanyongyu compounds. Journal of Chinese Linguistics, 36 (2), 249–274.

Wray, A. (2002). Formulaic language and the lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Yorio, C. A. (1980). Conventionalized language forms and the development of communicative competence. TESOL Quarterly, 14 (4), 433–442.

Zhou, H. (2012). A study of situation-bound utterances in modern Chinese. CASLAR: Chinese as a Second Language Research, 1 (1), 55–86.