The University of Arizona

CHINESE AS A PARATACTIC LANGUAGE

Ning Yu

Abstract


This paper attempts to outline the typological property of Chinese as a paratactic language, as distinguished from a hypotactic language like English. In a paratactic language, connective elements are often optional or unnecessary while the opposite is true in a hypotactic language. It is proposed that 'parataxis' be added to the clustering of distinctive properties that constitute a more general typological parameter which distinguishes Chinese as a discourse-oriented language from English as a sentence-oriented language. It is also argued that the recognition of parataxis as a distinctive typological property of Chinese will shed some light on the problem of the so-called 'double-subject' construction, and will cast some doubt on the traditional characterization of an analytical language like Chinese.

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