Home > Catalogo > Sinica venetiana > La lingua cinese: variazioni sul tema > Quello che i cinesi non dicono

Quello che i cinesi non dicono

Anna Morbiato    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia; The University of Sydney, Australia    



The non-specification of linguistic elements is a pervasive phenomenon in Mandarin Chinese, especially in its colloquial register. Despite its lack in inflectional morphology signaling the roles of participants in the clause, NP-like elements bearing a generic value or inferable from the linguistic/situational context are often left unspecified. This article aims at exploring the function-to-form mapping of some major non-specification forms, suggesting that they shall be considered linguistic devices encoding specific meanings.  Moreover, it shows how unspecified forms are not always equivalent to their corresponding overt forms, and cannot always be analyzed as anaphors or ellipses (i.e. NP deletion). Lastly, it suggests that looking at overt linguistic patterns alone does not offer sufficient cues for the correct interpretation of referents: inference abilities play a vital role in unspecified NPs resolution, and shall be considered as core skills to be developed by Chinese L2 students.


Keywords: Chinese languageLinguistic inferenceCognitive linguistics

Copyright: © 2015 Anna Morbiato. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.