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1 The Journal of Chinese Linguistics (Preprint)© 2018 by The Journal of Chinese Linguistics. All rights reserved. ISSN 0091-3723/Review of Diversity in Sinitic Language REVIEW Diversity in Sinitic Languages. Edited by Hilary M. Chappell. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. Pp. xvii, 315 ISBN 9780198723790; £70.00 (hb) Reviewed by Bit-Chee Kwok Yik-Po Lai The Chinese University of Hong Kong 1. OVERVIEW OF DIVERSITY OF SINITIC LANGUAGES The difference in grammar, or morphosyntax, among Chinese dialects was once thought to be insignificant, as reflected in Chao’s (1968:13) famous claim that “[i]t is in matters of grammar that the greatest degree of uniformity is found among all the dialects of the Chinese language.” This idea, however, has been critically challenged since the 1980s when more dialectal data come into light.1 Diversity in Sinitic Languages is the latest milestone in the exploration of the grammatical diversity across Chinese dialects. As the book title suggests, the editor views traditional Chinese dialect groups as related but different languages. The term ‘Sinitic languages’ will be used throughout this review. The book under review comprises three parts, bringing together ten chapters by eight authors. All the chapters, except Chapter 3 by Peyraube, Acknowledgment The authors wish to express their sincere gratitude to Professors Phoebe Lin and William S.-Y. Wang for their encouragement and useful suggestions. Kwok, Bit-Chee (corresponding author) [bckwok@cuhk.edu.hk]; Department of Chinese Language and Literature, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, The New Territories, Hong Kong. https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8115-6776 Lai, Yik-Po Department of Chinese Language and Literature, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, The New Territories, Hong Kong https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8791-0757 1. A pioneer in this area is Zhu Dexi (1985), who explores the diversity of neutral question forms across Chinese dialects. 2 JOURNAL OF CHINESE LINGUISTICS (PREPRINT) The Journal of Chinese Linguistics (Preprint)© 2018 by The Journal of Chinese Linguistics. All rights reserved. ISSN 0091-3723/Review of Diversity in Sinitic Language are products of the project entitled ‘The hybrid syntactic typology of Sinitic languages (SINOTYPE)’ funded by the European Research Council from 2009 to 2013. The final product of the project, following this book, will be a series of typological descriptive grammars of lesser-known Sinitic languages such as the Waxiang language spoken in Hunan, Hui’an Southern Min spoken in Fujian, and Nanning Southern Pinghua spoken in Guangxi.3 In Part I of the book, two chapters, following the introduction, are devoted to approaches to the grammatical diversity of Sinitic languages. To highlight the nature and extent of the diversity across the languages, Chappell’s chapter applies the notion of linguistic area, which typically describes languages belonging to different families, to analyzing Sinitic languages. She identifies five linguistic areas based on an examination of disposal, passive and comparative constructions. Peyraube’s chapter demonstrates with specific examples how typological research on Sinitic languages may benefit from studies of diachronic grammar. In contrast, in the West the influence of typology upon diachronic studies is more significant than that of diachronic studies upon typology. In Part II, extensive data were presented in three typological studies to illustrate important aspects of the grammatical diversity across Sinitic languages. Yujie Chen’s study investigates demonstrative systems with a sample of 303 Sinitic languages. Chen shows that on top of the two-term systems, which are the most prevalent type in Sinitic languages as well as in world languages, there also exist one-term, three-term, four-term, and even five-term systems in the Sinitic family. Some languages with a one-term system are found to employ another type of system as well. In systems with three terms or above, a demonstrative member may be derived from another member through various devices, such as syllable lengthening, stressing, reduplication and tone sandhi. While different systems in the languages are mainly based on the distance scale, a small number of them are reported to be also sensitive to visibility. Wang revisits bare classifier 3. Details of the ‘SINOTYPE’ project can be found at the website, Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l'Asie orientale, “Enseignants-chercheurs, Hilary Chappell...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2411-3484
Print ISSN
0091-3723
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-07
Open Access
No
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