Chapter published in:Cognitive Linguistics and the Study of Chinese
Edited by Dingfang Shu, Hui Zhang and Lifei Zhang
[Human Cognitive Processing 67] 2019
► pp. 47–72
When constructions meet context
The polysemy of Mandarin hai revisited
This study investigates the synchronic polysemy of the Mandarin construction hai. Drawing on authentic and contextualized examples of spoken language, I propose that hai prototypically functions as an indicator that the ensuing proposition refers back to some relevant presupposition in prior discourse, which is either explicitly stated or inferable. With this contrastive alignment of two propositions, the reading of hai as ‘temporal continuance’ emerges naturally by way of pragmatic inferencing. In other words, I demonstrate that the various meanings identified in previous studies arise from an interplay between hai’s schematic sense and discourse pragmatics. This study presents not only a unified account for the synchronic polysemy of hai, but also has significance for the study of constructions in discourse.
Keywords: contextualization, discourse pragmatics, presupposition, schematic sense
Published online: 20 November 2019
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