Edited by Wei-lun Lu and Jirí Lukl
[Cognitive Linguistic Studies 7:2] 2020
► pp. 307–333
In Modern Standard Chinese, word order patterns and constructions are motivated by factors and restrictions connected to different levels of linguistic organization, including not only semantics and syntax, but also pragmatics, information-structure, and the conceptual domain. The functional and the cognitive paradigms have offered distinct but complementary perspectives capable of accounting for word order patterns and regularities related to either the topic-prominent nature of Chinese or the iconic dimension of its grammar. This article shows how cognitive and functional aspects are in fact tightly intertwined and display significant and not yet fully explored parallelisms. Specifically, it looks into the notions of ‘frame’, ‘scope’, and ‘part’, features shared by both functional accounts of topic-comment structures and conceptually motivated word order principles. It proposes a qualitative corpus analysis of such notions and shows that first, Chinese topics are better defined in terms of frames; second, a number of word order regularities can be accounted for with a single cognitive-functional schema, which I refer to as frame-part, or frame-participant, which is connected to the image schema of containment. This article hopes to contribute to bridging the gap between functional studies on information structure in Chinese and perspectives offered by the cognitive approach to linguistic structures, and to offer effective tools for Chinese as a second language acquisition.