Conjunctive Markers in (Mandarin) Chinese and Indo-European Languages: an Interlinguistic Comparison

Emanuele Banfi, Giorgio Francesco Arcodia

Abstract


The aim of this work is an essentially historico-linguistic analysis of semantic and historico-linguistic paths presupposed by the realization of copulative coordination markers in two typologically and genetically different systems: (Mandarin) Chinese and the system of Indo-European languages. We will examine how, in the serial organization of linguistic forms – whether they are ‘lexemes’ or ‘events’ – the Indo-European and the Chinese systems make use of different semantic strategies. In the Chinese system, the serial organization of linguistic forms occurs by means of conjunctive markers predominantly belonging to the semantic field of ‘agreement’, of ‘homogeneity’ between the elements of the series. Meanwhile, in Indo-European languages, the historically attested copulative coordination markers derive from roots that are distributed semantically along a continuum that ranges from the opposition of forms (in which single elements are gathered in a whole insofar as they are different from each other: this is the case of the outcomes of roots I.E. *-nt and *h1et(i) / *h1at(i), to the relation of forms (in which single elements are united in a whole insofar as they are related to one another: this is the case of the outcomes of the root I.E. *-kwe), to the presence of semantically ambiguous solutions (in which copulative conjunction markers derive from elements placed in a semantically intermediary position between the notions of opposition (distinctive) and relation: this is the case of the overextension in the use of the semantic values of *h1et(i) / *h1at(i).

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