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ISSN : 1229-9618(Print)
ISSN : 2671-7506(Online)
Chinese Studies Vol.80 pp.235-258

A study on Chinese Existential Sentenses : With Focus on Informational Structure

Nam Ryang
경남대학교 중국학과 조교수


This paper considered the existence sentence of Chinese in terms of an informational perspective. We can summarize it as follows. First, we can look at the scene with a Chinese dictionary on the desk and express ‘桌子 上有汉语词典’ or express ‘汉语词典在桌子上’. That is, it can be expressed in two different syntactic structures for the same scene. These two sentences are the same in terms of truth conditions, but they are different in terms of information. In the former, the speaker used the ‘桌子上’ as a topic and used it as a starting point for the message to be delivered. At this time, the speaker assumes that the information ‘桌子上’ already exists in the listener's head, and the listener updates the new information on it. In the latter, the speaker used the ‘汉语词典’ as a topic and used it as a starting point for the message to be delivered, and the listener updates the new information on it. The reason why the same scene is structured differently is that when the speaker wants to convey some information to the listener, he or she chooses the structure that the speaker thinks is most effective in each situation. In addition, the place of Chinese existence sentence has different characteristics from other topics. It is located at the beginning of the gate and is also the same as other place adverbial topics in terms of old information, but it differs from them in that it is given prominence and encoded as a subject. Second, although the NPs of Chinese existential sentence are known to be indefinite, in fact, many definite NPs are found. Through the definite NPs, we can see that the Chinese existential sentence reflects the cognitive mechanism of close-up perspective mode as well as long-range perspective mode. In addition, although the definite NP of Chinese existential sentence is a definite noun phrase, it may be new information. However, not all definite NPs are new information. Third, we analyzed the informational characteristics of untypical existential sentence. The ‘VP+NP’ structure has no place, so it has no topic. Therefore the entire sentence is new information. ‘NL+NP’ structure has no ‘VP’. This structure can be transformed into an NL+VP+NP structure by inserting the verb ‘有’ or ‘是’ that represents the simplest existence. This structure can be selected and expressed when the conceptualizer does not attach informational value to the existence method of the NP. ‘在NL+VP+NP’ structure further limits the space where NP exists, and serves to emphasize and remind listeners that the space is here.


‘桌子上有汉语词典’, ‘汉语词典在桌子上’처럼 동일한 장면을 서로 다르게 구조화하 는 이유는 화자가 청자에게 어떤 정보를 전달하고자 할 때, 화자가 각각의 상황에서 가장 효과적이라고 생각하는 구조를 선택하기 때문이다. 즉 동일한 장면에 대한 상 이한 통사구조를 정보구조의 관점에서 분석할 수 있다. 또한 중국어 존현문의 장소 어는 현저성을 부여받아 주어로 부호화되었다는 점에서 일반적 화제들과는 다르다. 따라서 존현문의 장소어를 여타 화제들처럼 단순히 닻 내리는 역할만 한다고 보는 것은 존현문의 정보적 특성을 간과한 것이다. 중국어 존현문의 NP는 비한정적이어 야 한다고 알려져 있지만, 실제로는 한정적 NP들이 존재한다. 한정적 NP의 존재는 중국어 존현문에 근거리 조망이라는 인지적 기제가 반영되어 있음을 보여준다. 또한 존현문의 한정적 NP는 특정한 조건하에서 한정 명사구임에도 불구하고 신정보일 수 있다. ‘VP+NP’ 구조, ‘NL+NP’ 구조, ‘在NL+VP+NP’ 구조는 비전형적 존현문이라 할 수 있다. 이 비전형적 존현문은 전형적 존현문과 구분되는 고유한 기능을 가진다.