City University of Hong Kong Dep
Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Research Degree Forum
Indefinite Singular Genericity – A comparative study between Chinese and English
Miss LU Shuo
PhD student, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, City University of Hong Kong
Date: 12 August 2009, Wednesday
Time: 2:30 - 3:30pm
Venue: B7603 (7/F, Blue Zone), Academic Building, CityU
This paper examines the interpretation of indefinite singular generic sentences (generic sentences with an indefinite singular NP as the subject; “ISN generic sentences” for short) in English and Chinese. After presenting their different expression modes, the paper proposes that ISN generic sentences should have a modal base to get the generic reading in both languages, though the modal base has different realizations in them. In English, the indefinite article “a/an” and the simple present tense are usually employed to express genericity, there is no need to employ a lexical or overt modal element in English ISN generic sentences. However, in Chinese, there is no lexical indefinite determiner, and the numeral “yi (one)” is ambiguous between a lexical meaning of 'one' and being a potential indefinite determiner. Hence, an overt modal has to be employed to present the generic meaning unambiguously in the relevant Chinese ISN generic sentences.
Miss LU Shuo is currently a PhD student in the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics. Her research interest mainly lies in semantics.
~ CTL Staff and Research Degree Students only ~
CTL Technical Support