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Quantifying constructions in English and Chinese
A corpus-based contrastive study
[Abstract] This article takes a corpus-based approach to cross-linguistic contrast of quantifying constructions in English and Chinese on the basis of comparable corpora of spoken and written data in the two languages, with the aim of addressing three research questions: a) What linguistic devices are used in Chinese and English for quantification? b) How different (or similar) are classifiers in Chinese and English? and c) Can quantifying constructions interact with progressives in English and Chinese if such interactions are theoretically ruled out by aspect theory? Chinese is generally recognized as a classifier language whereas current English grammars rarely mention the term ‘classifier’. Counterparts of Chinese classifiers in English are treated as a special group of nouns. Our study demonstrates that differences in use of classifiers in English and Chinese are more quantitative than qualitative, and classifiers the two languages are less different from each other than their different terms in current use would suggest. Progressives can interact with quantifying constructions in both English and Chinese, but the two languages show different levels of tolerance to such interactions.
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