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Phondi: San Duanmu on "word stretching" in Chinese

Friday, February 8, 2013
12:00 AM
473 Lorch Hall

When Words Are Too Short: Phonology, Morphology, and Semantics in Stretching Word Length

Professor San Duanmu will present on his current research in the Phondi meeting this Friday. San and his students have been working for several years now on so-called "flexible word length" in Chinese and other languages. This research has covered both phenomena where longer words acquire shorter forms with the same meaning, and also the opposite situation where short words acquire a corresponding long form. San's presentation this Friday will focus on the latter phenomenon in Chinese. A title and abstract for the presentation are given below.

When Words Are Too Short: Phonology, Morphology, and Semantics in Stretching Word Length

When most words are too short in a language, there is often a need to increase their length. Does this happen on a massive scale? If so, what are the mechanisms to achieve it? It is often suggested that the process has taken place in Chinese but quantitative studies are lacking. I report a quantitative study in which comprehensive data have been collected from the Chinese lexicon. I show that most monosyllabic words (W1) have indeed acquired a disyllabic form (W2). I also discuss the phonology, morphology, and semantics that govern the relation between W1 and W2.

Speaker: