Non-canonical uses of overt personal pronouns in New Zealand English and Chinese
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis investigates the non-canonical uses of overt personal pronouns in spoken New Zealand English (NZE) and Chinese. Two oral corpora were chosen to be used in this study. One is the Canterbury Corpus (CC), and the other is the Beijing Oral Corpus (BJKY). Thirty-two speakers were selected from each corpusto make up my sample dataset.
The following types of non-canonical pronoun uses were identified in the CC sample: generic we, generic you, shifts toyoufrom Iand we,you and yourin existentials, unisex he, hefor animal species, shefor inanimates, itwith collective nouns, theywith collective nouns and unisex they.
Similar types of non-canonical pronoun uses were found in the transcripts of the BJKY sample: generic wǒmen(we), generic nǐ(you sg.), shifts to nǐ(you sg.)from wǒ(I) and wǒmen(we),and unisextā他(he). In addition, the BJKY sample also contained instances of generic wǒ(I), shift to wǒmen(we) from wǒ(I), shift to nǐ(you sg.) from nǐmen(you pl.), discourse markernǐ(you sg.), generic nín(honorific you sg.), generic tā(3sg), shift to tā(3sg) from tāmen(3pl), discourse markers tā(3sg) and shift to tāmen(3pl) from tā(3sg).
The similarities of non-canonical pronoun uses between NZE and Chinese are accounted for using pragmatic approaches in this study. Two pragmatic schemas -the Valid Schema and Simulation Schema -were applied to interpret the generic uses and shift uses involving generality found in the CC and BJKY samples. All generic uses and shift uses involving generality in this study can be seen to comply with Gast et al. (2015)’s claim that personal pronouns have the same reference or underlying semantics in both canonical and non-canonical uses, and that the difference between canonical and non-canonical uses comes from the sentential context and conversational conditions.
The differences between NZE and Chinese non-canonical pronoun uses are primarily analysed from the perspectives of language properties and cultural norms. Language properties may prompt the occurrence of different non-canonical pronoun uses between NZE and Chinese, such asit/theywith collective nouns in comparison with the shifts to singular from plural forms in Chinese, unisex he & theyin contrast with unisex tā他(he) & tā她(she) in written Chinese, he/shefor animal species and inanimates in comparison to tā她(she) for countries in written Chinese, and different discourse particle usages. Cultural norms may explain the high frequency of the shifts to plural from singular forms in Chinese. The collectivist society and one-in-group thinking may prompt Chinese speakers to favour the plural wǒmen(we) and tāmen(3pl) over the singular wǒ(I) and tā(3sg) in their speech, especially when discussing family or work related issues.