Towards a Perfect Definition of the Term “Sign”—Louis Capet Better Words and Morphemes — JLSSCNC Vol I, No 3 Contents Laborers Needed—Advertisement

Review of Zhang, Jiannan (1991). The Relationships between Processes and Participants in Chinese: A Cognitive Approach. Unpublished PhD dissertation.

Dr. Zhang seems to be laboring under a strange delusion. To wit, as far as I can tell, he thinks that there are only 300 verbs in Chinese. Where he got this idea, I have no idea, since most people know that there are a total of 307 verbs in Chinese. Even more strangely, he has included in his sample two verbs, kan ‘look at, read’ and chi ‘eat’, which are not even really Chinese, but rather pseudo-Chinese (see Pengyou 1988 for discussion). This means that he includes only 298 of the actual 307 verbs of Chinese in his discussion. For the benefit of those who may buy and read his book, I list here the omissions.

dandan   ‘to swallow food and drink simultaneously’
jiabei‘(stative) to be between 50 and 72 kilograms’
men‘to sleep’
xibiqi‘to bellow’
fengguei‘to hop up and down upon a feather pillow, or upon a bridge’
gobai‘to say farewell’ (possibly a borrowing)
fuhen‘to throw a blackboard eraser at a rain cloud’
cheihwa‘(stative) to be at once trivial and overeager’
yibadze‘to drop a cat’

Nor is the above omission the only error in this volume. For example, on page 115 Dr. Zhang wrote representaitons instead of representations. This sort of typo is unacceptalbe. Furthermore, this thesis is 278 pages long. All theses should comprise a number of pages evenly divisible by ten. Surely it would not have been too hard to add two pages somewhere. Better yet, in order to make the number of pages an even multiple of one hundred, Dr. Zhang could have added 22 pages.

My final criticism is that Dr. Zhang should have chosen a more interesting language than Chinese to examine. Like English, for example. Everyone knows that English is far and away the world’s most fascinating language, which is why most of your cutting-edge linguists spend their time analyzing it. I can only hope that Dr. Zhang will turn his formidable talents to English in his future work.

Jan Vanderkeller University of The Hague

Towards a Perfect Definition of the Term “Sign”—Louis Capet
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Better Words and Morphemes — JLSSCNC Vol I, No 3 Contents