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Chinese morphology in English-Chinese contrast/英汉对比中的汉语形态学浅析
Abstract: The theory of sinigram as the basic unit argues that Chinese studies should be based on sinigram since sinigram is the basic unit in Chinese. This is a new theory and it is revolution in the Chinese philosophy of language. The theory influences not only Chinese studies but also English-Chinese contrastive studies in methodology and research domain. Many problems could also be solved according to this theory.
Key Words: Sinigram, Influence, English-Chinese Contrastive Study, Chinese Morphological Changes
Introduction
The basic unit of language is the nuclear in language studies. Therefore, linguists attempt to find out the basic unit of the target language during their studies. Chinese linguists try their best to find out the basic unit and have proposed kinds of basic unit theories, which are based on ‘word’ in European languages (especially English), not the basic unit of Chinese language in nature, which could not solve all the basic problems of language successfully. After summing up the slips of Chinese studies in 20th century, Wang Ailu, Xu Tongqiang, Wang Hongjun, Pan Wenguo, Wang Ping, Lu Chuan et al successively proposed the theory of sinigram, of which the representative figures are Xu Tongqiang and Pan Wenguo, integrating the Chinese features. The theory of sinigram as the basic unit argues that Chinese studies should be based on sinigram since sinigram is the basic unit in Chinese. The distinction between ‘word’ and ‘sinigram’ is that ‘word’ is based on grammar studies, while ‘sinigram’ is based on meaning studies. This is a new theory and ‘it is a revolution in the Chinese philosophy of language.’(Pan, 20
  02) ‘The theory influences not only Chinese studies but also English-Chinese contrastive studies in methodology and research domain.’(Pan, 20
  02) Furthermore, the theory of sinigram is not only a subject of Chinese studies, but also a subject of general linguistics. Therefore, the study of this theory should be in the direction of the viewpoints of Chinese studies and also of general linguistics and language contrastive studies.’(Pan, 20
  02) Based on this theory, we may have a further analysis about the Chinese character, word, and their morphological changes. Since ‘word’ is the basic unit in English, while ‘Chinese character’ is the basic unit in Chinese, they determine the features of their own languages respectively. The first thing we should do is to study the similarities and differences between ‘word’ and ‘Chinese character’ before we have the English-Chinese contrastive studies, so as not to be influenced by the limitation of the features of character itself, when it comes to the Chinese word-building and its morphology. ‘We must capture the nature of language, which is covered by the character.’ Fang Guangtao has ever said in one of his eight principles of Chinese grammar study. Chinese character is a kind of syllable-morpheme, which is very helpful for us to recognize and define the features of Chinese morphemes. However, the forms of Chinese character always let us inadvertently neglect language (or oral) features, for instance, some phonetic features and phonetic changes, and even confuse the distinction between ‘word’ and ‘Chinese character’, so that the confusion between lexical meaning of one morpheme or one word and its grammatical meaning makes it seem that one Chinese character is equal to one word. For example, one character which could only be attached to a noun referring to human to express plural form‘群’and ‘们’, has been regarded as an independent word. It makes a lexical problem became a grammatical problem. Whether the grammatical studies, or the morphological studies of word, it should be based on the way of oral expression, i.e. based on the actual language. Fang Guangtao pointed out clearly and definitely that it is unreasonable to say that grammar depends on character.
I.Nationality in English-Chinese contrastive study
The philosophical basis of language of the theory of sinigram is the language-world-outlook, which was put forward by Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-18
  35) ,founder of general linguistics. He held that language was indispensable for the shape of the world-outlook, because individuals had to clearly and definitely link his own thoughts with others’ thoughts and even the thoughts of the whole community, in order to form the thoughts to the world. Within a homogeneous nation, language is influenced by the same kind of subjectivity, so each language has its own specific world-outlook. A national language is a national spirit, and vice verse. ‘Different nation has different national spirit feature, which determines all kinds of differences existing in human languages.’ Pan Wenguo not only emphasized the importance of language-world-outlook to the Chinese study, but also definitely pointed out that the English-Chinese contrastive studies should be philosophically based on the language-world-outlook. He argued ‘the language-world-outlook is a revolution in contrastive studies and sees language as an ontology instead of merely a tool used for communication. Based on it, language studies are national and national culture oriented, rather than only the description of surface structure of language; Based on it, language studies should pay more attention to the studies of meaning, in order to lead to the studies of grammar and of pragmatics, and only in this way, language studies will be more practical.’ The crux of English-Chinese contrastive studies is to capture the distinctive features of these two languages, i.e. to emphasize the distinctive features of nationalities of languages.
Early Chinese studies were influenced by the European language studies. ‘Word’ is the basic unit of European languages, while ‘Chinese character’ is the basic unit of Chinese. In order to achieve a satisfying result in Chinese studies, it would be better to be based on sinigram, taking advantages of studies of the Chinese traditional character, phonology, and critical interpretation of ancient texts, and also combing with the western linguistic theories. The alleged ‘influence of European language’ is that the studies of Chinese language is modeled according to the distinction of structural framework of ‘subject-predicate’ and its related noun, verb and adjective, so as to find the ‘corresponding’ components and then label them accordingly. In the English-Chinese studies, Chinese should be treated as the subject, while English the object. Only in this way could we avoid the alleged ‘influence of European language’ and stop labeling.
A proper contrast may show the features clearly, while a simple correspondence may make a vague feature. For instance, we could not simply treat ‘们’in Chinese equal to or similar with ‘-s’ in English, merely because both of them have the grammatical functions of referring to the plural; we also could not simply neglect the sense and functions of world-building of‘们’, and even negate all the possible word-building in Chinese , merely because of the difference between ‘们’and ‘-s’. Actually, it’s a matter of how to analyze the grammatical features of the native language in general or common ground of language. Just as what Fang Guangtao mention that the studies of grammar should, on one hand, notice the actual national features of languages, while on the other hand, notice the general common features of grammar. It doesn’t conform to the due scientific attitude and dialectical methodology to unbalanced stress particularity of native grammar or unbalance stress its general common features. Dialectically speaking, both ‘们’and ‘-s’ have their own features. Different from ‘-s’, ‘们’ is only used with the noun referring human, showing as a set, obscurity or an indefinite plural and used on different occasions; Similar with ‘-s’, ‘们’ doesn’t have the independent lexical meaning either, so that it could not appear independently in the sentence and only phonetically mix together with the related noun form attached to. If and only if they combine with the related nouns, the nouns will have plural grammatical meaning. ‘This kind of similarity is essential and important.’(Hu, 19
  85) They all belong to ‘number’ in grammatical category. Fang Guangtao argued ‘As a language, Chinese shares the general features of any other languages, but it still has its own particularity, and the special ways of morphological changes. In grammatical studies, two things must be considered. One is the general feature as common in Chinese as in any other languages and the other is its particularity. Any one-sided study is unacceptable. This is a basic principle for the Chinese morphological studies.
II.Contrastive analysis about the English ‘word’ and Chinese ‘character’
This contrast is very important for our later discussion, since both are the basic unit of these two languages respectively, involving the studies of any other aspects. ‘Word’ is the English basic unit, while ‘character’ is the Chinese basic unit, and they all determine the features of their own languages respectively. The first thing we should do is to study the similarities and differences between ‘word’ and ‘Chinese character’ before we go on our studies of English-Chinese contrast. Pan wenguo showed his studies about their similarities.
  1) They are all the nature units of languages;
  2) They are all the basic units for their nations to recognize the world;
  3) They are all the level crossings of their language studies;
  4) They all play a pivotal role in forming a connecting link between lexicon and syntax.
However, they are only similarities, by which Pan mainly wanted to show his view of ‘character’ being the Chinese basic unit. In fact, the particularity should be much more emphasized in the studies of these two basic units. As basic units of two different languages, it‘s true that they have something in common in certain properties and functions, but it doesn’t mean that they are the same. On most occasions, when English speakers talk about ‘word’, it means ‘character’ in Chinese. To say so doesn’t mean that specific structures of ‘Chinese character’ is the same as, or even similar with, the English ‘word’. Even if they have the similarities, they are still very different in natures and functions, for example, both are the natures of languages, but their natures are completely different. ‘Word is arbitrary, but not discipline-based, while ‘Chinese character’ is descriptive, and discipline-based; both are basic units of recognizing the world, but their ways are different. The way in English is that the concept is directly linked with sound, which is then recorded by word, while the way in Chinese is that the concept is directly linked with word, and sound is merely an attachment. Therefore, we could reach the conclusion: The sound of the ‘English word’ is primary, and the form is secondary, while the form of ‘Chinese character’ is primary, and the sound is secondary. So the contrastive studies of these two basic units could be even further based on the four similarities mentioned above:
  1) The contrastive studies between ‘Chinese character’ and ‘English word’ as natural units of languages;
  2) The contrastive studies between ‘ Chinese character’ and ‘English word’ as basic units of recognizing the world;
  3) The contrastive studies between ‘Chinese character’ and ‘English word’ as level crossings;
  4) The contrastive studies between ‘Chinese character’ and ‘ English word’ as connecting links between lexicon and syntax. We are going to talk about two kinds of contrastive studies as following:

  2.1Contrast of based-discipline or each basic unit
Saussure held that the relationship between the signifier and the signified was arbitrary. Arbitrariness is the most important principle of language. Since that, linguists study the arbitrariness of signs of language, and all believe that single morpheme signs are arbitrary, while compound signs are discipline-based. Influenced by this theory, the traditional English-Chinese discipline contrast only existed in the contrast of word morphological discipline for only compound signs are discipline-based. It seemed that the single morpheme signs characters have been neglected. ‘Chinese characters’ are also discipline-based according to the theory of sinigram. From the relationship between syllable and coding mechanism, Xu Tongqiang proved that the coding discipline of European languages focused on the combination of signs, while the Chinese focused on the single morpheme signscharacters. This had also been fully proved by our critical interpretation of ancient texts, which used the method of ‘meaning received through its sound’ and ‘meaning received through its form’. The question is why the meaning could be received through its sound and its form. It could be explained that there are disciplines between meaning and sound, and between meanin
 

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