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Idiomaticity and Regularity in Chinese Four-Character Idioms: The Case of [yi-X-#-Y]

Vol. 49 No. 4  12/2019

Title

Idiomaticity and Regularity in Chinese Four-Character Idioms: The Case of [yi-X-#-Y]

Author

Liu Te-hsina, Lü Chia-rungb, Tsai I-nia, Su I-wen

Genre

Article

Pages

683-719

DOI

10.6503/THJCS.201912_49(4).0004

Download

PDF

Language

Chinese

Key words

Chinese four-character idioms, construction, yi-X-yi-Y, yi-X-er-Y, yi-X-qian-Y

Abstract

Chinese four-character idioms possess structural uniformity, profound meaning and cultural connotation; however, the research in the field has failed to give sufficient prominence to their idiomaticity and regularity.

Adopting the framework of “Construction Grammar,” in this article we discuss their interrelated syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic features by examining four-character forms with the patterning [yi-X-#-Y] ‘one-X-number-Y’. In particular, we examine instances that fall under three specific prefabs with high type frequency: [yi-X-yi-Y] ‘one-X-one-Y’, [yi-X-er-Y] ‘one-X-two-Y’, and [yi-X-qian-Y] ‘one-X-thousand-Y.’ We also investigate their syntactic functions. In addition, we explore the relationships between X, Y, and the construction from the perspective of metaphorical extension, and investigate the interaction between different constructions. Newly created idioms such as [yi-li-yi-xiu] ‘One mandatory day off and one flexible rest day’ and [yi-dai-yi-lu] ‘The Belt and Road’ imply that the higher the type frequency of a construction, the higher its productivity. In other words, being classified as fixed phrases, idiomatic expressions have a certain degree of openness and productivity in Modern Chinese.

 

Author: Liu Te-hsina, Lü Chia-rungb, Tsai I-nia, Su I-wen
Genre: Article
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