Macquarie University
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A Corpus-based contrastive analysis of directive speech act verbs in English and Chinese legislative texts

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:59 authored by Wujian Han
Directive speech act verbs (SAVs) constitute one of the most important areas of the vocabulary of any language and are of great significance for building the theory of human linguistic behaviour. Directive SAVs are considered highly conventionalized and genre-specific, andare prominent in legislative texts to impose obligations (Danet, 1980).The theoretical value and practical significance of such everyday built-in meta language have long been recognized. However, studies focusing on English and Chinese directive SAVs are very rare, particularly in the legal genre. Therefore, this study investigates the uses of a group of commonly-used, synonymous English and Chinese directive SAVs in legislative texts. It proposes a unique theoretical approach that extends the corpus-linguistic framework to compare and contrast the semantic meaning and valency sentence patterns of the examined English and Chinese directive SAVs in depth. To retrieve reliable information on their use, a comparable corpus consisting of original legislative texts in English and Chinese, and a parallel corpus consisting of Chinese legislative texts as source texts and their translations in English, were established.The Contrastive Analysis of a large quantity of empirical corpus data uncovers similarities and differences in the distinctive usage of English and Chinese directive SAVs in legislative texts; it reveals that semantic meaning and syntactic patterns of directive SAVs are closely related, and also that semantic meaning can provide information about syntactic pattern, and vice versa.This study concludes that the valency sentence patterns of the Chinese SAVs, to a large extent, govern the choice of the English translation equivalents as well as their valency patterns. Methodologically, this study demonstrates that comparable and parallel corpora can be exploited fruitfully in contrastive linguistics and corpus-linguistic approaches, and that a contrastive approach can advance the field of translation studies between English and Chinese. It is hoped that this study will be of value and interest to translators and students of language,and offer new insights into the descriptive potential of the corpus-linguistic approach to contrastive lexical semantics and syntax.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Theoretical perspectives of speech act verbs -- 3. Analytic methods: componential analysis and valency analysis -- 4. Analytic methods: corpus-based contrastive analysis the corpus of the study -- 5. Semantic components and syntactic valency complements of the English and Chinese directive savs -- 6. Contrastive analysis of the valency sentence patterns of the English and Chinese directive savs observed in the comparable corpus -- 7. Valency analysis of English and Chinese directive savs in the parallel corpus -- 8. Implications -- 9. Conclusions.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 355-377

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Science, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Ilija Casule


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1 online resource (377 pages)

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