The inter-sentential function of Mandarin bei passives
Although the intra-sentential functions of the Mandarin bei passive construction have been well studied, its inter-sentential function has not been well understood yet. In this paper, from a Centering Theory perspective, we demonstrate that the bei passive also bears inter-sentential weights. Specifically, the function of the pre-bei semantic entity is to preserve the Cb from its preceding utterance; whereas that of the bei-object is either to introduce a new Cb or to retain the original Cb so as to step aside for a new one at the pre-bei position. This study also compares the Centering Theory approach with the Givón tradition in discourse analysis and claims that Centering Theory is a more suitable analytical tool of calculating the degree of discourse coherence and portraying the fluency of information flow, whereas the Givón tradition is better treated as a measurement for discourse relatedness.
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