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Tai Lam

California State University

Dominnguez Hills
Fall 2009

A Typological Description Of Modern Mandarin Chinese

The paper tends to simply describe the typological classification of Mandarin Chinese, a

member of the Chinese branch of the Sino-Tibetan family. Mandarin is the major Chinese

language in that (1) it is the native language of more than half of the people of China, (2) these

native speakers inhabit about 75 percent of the land area of China, (3) it is the official language

of both mainland China and Taiwan, SAR Hongkong and Macau, Singapore and world-wide

Chinese population. and (4) the written language is structurally and lexically closer to Mandarin

than to any of the other Chinese languages. Mandarin was called guānyŭ (Official Language) in

Chinese. The word Mandarin comes, via Portuguese, from the Sanskrit word mandari

(commander). The Portuguese used the term to refer both to the Chinese people and their

language. Mandarin is known as pŭtōnghuà (common language) or Bĕijīnghuà (Beijing language)

in China, Guóyŭ (national language) in Taiwan, and Huáyŭ (Chinese language) in Singapore and

Malaysia, and other areas. As to the scope of the research, the paper tends to deal with the

patterns of word-formation, their classification and parameters of cross-linguistic variation,

grammatical words in internal structure or the language phonological features.

Due to geographical and historical features and reasons, a number of Chinese languages

are mutually unintelligible. This mutual unintelligibility is largely due to phonological and

lexical factors; from the grammatical point of view, these languages are rather similar. Thus,

most of the typological features of Mandarin discussed in this paper, with some differences of

detail, are shared by other Chinese languages.

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When one compares Mandarin to other languages of the world, it will display a number

of typologically salient features. Phonologically, Mandarin Chinese is a toned language, and its

syllable structure is highly constrained. Grammatically, the most noteworthy feature is the fact

that Mandarin is an isolating language that has no inflectional morphology.

Phonological Typology

In Mandarin Chinese, each character corresponds to one syllable. Chinese syllables

consist of three distinctive elements: initial sound, final sound and tone. The initial sounds are

consonants and the final sounds contain at least one vowel. Some syllables consist only of an

initial sound or a final sound. Unlike in European languages, initials and finals (not consonants

and vowels), are the fundamental elements in pinyin ( the new phonetic systems used to

transcribe the Mandarin Chinese language). Nearly each Chinese syllable can be spelled with

exactly one initial followed by one final, except in the special syllable er and when a trailing -r is

considered part of a syllable (see the chart below).

Even though most initials contain a consonant, finals are not simple vowels, especially in

compound finals, i.e., when one "final" is placed in front of another one. For example, [i] and [u]

are pronounced with such tight openings that some native Chinese speakers (especially when

singing) pronounce yī (clothes), officially pronounced /i/ as /ji/, wéi (to enclose), officially as

/uei/) as /wei/ or /wuei/. The concepts of consonant and vowel are not incorporated in pinyin or

its predecessors; there is no list of consonants or vowels. (Appendix 1)

In the language typology literature, classic works on phonological universals include

many linguists like Trubetzkoy (1939), Hockett (1955), Furguson (1963), Greenberg

(1966,1978), Lass (1984) and others. In phonological aspects, the implicational universals are

applied to Mandarin Chinese mostly according to Roger Lass (1984).

A Typological Description of Mandarin Chinese Lam page 2/20

a) Modern Mandarin Chinese Vowels (Finals) Inventory

(Fig. 1 Modern Mandarin Chinese Vowels)

Universal 1. All languages have at least three vowels / i, u, a/

True : Mandarin Chinese (MC) has 6 vowels (finals) : /i, u, ü, a, o, e/

2. The number of high vowels tend to be greater than that of low vowels.

True: MC has three high vowels /i, ü, u/, three mid vowels / , , o/ and one low vowel /a/.

3. Front vowels tend to be unrounded and back vowels tend to be rounded.

True: MC front vowels are unrounded, and back vowels are rounded. But front ü and the

back / / are rounded.

4. All languages have oral vowels. If a language has nasal vowels, the number of oral ones is

greater than that of nasal ones.

True: MC has 7 oral vowels and no nasal vowels. However, oral vowels may be nasalized

when followed by nasal consonant /n/ or /-ng [ŋ]/. And those are the only consonants

that can be syllable codas following the nuleus. E.g. “hen” /hən/, Bei-jing /bei- t iŋ/

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Some Chinese sounds have the final “r”, contracted with the “er” sound that begins with

a Mandarin “e” which sounds like the “e” in “hers.” This “e” sound is finished with the “r”

sound which is produced by curling the tongue upwards and backwards.

b) Sonorant Inventory

5. Languages usually have one or more voiced approximants.

True: MC has three voiced approximants / r [ɻ], y [j] [ɥ], w/ and lateral voiced

approximant / l /.

6. All languages have at least one nasal, and its frequency hierarchy is :

Alveolar < Labial < Velar < Palatal < Retroflex < Uvular

True: MC has an alveolar /n/, a labial /m/ and a velar /ŋ / (allophone), and its frequency

hierarchy is: Alveolar < Labial < Velar

7. Language sonorants tend to be voiced.

True: MC has 6 voiced sonorants and no voiceless sonorants. MC’s sonorant consonantal

phonemes are: /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /ɹ/, /w/, /y [j] or [ɥ] /.

c) Consonant (initials) Inventory

8. The number of voiceless obstruents is usually greater than the number of voiced, or equal.

True: MC has 10 voiceless obstruents and 6 voiced obstruents.

9. Languages usually have at least three simple oral stops, most likely / p, t, k/

True: MC has them all.

10. All languages have consonants and vowels, and consonants outnumber vowels.

True: MC has 21 consonant (initial) sounds (phonemes) and 7 vowels (finals).

11. The number of stops is likely to be greater than that of fricatives.

True: MC has 6 stops and 6 fricatives.

A Typological Description of Mandarin Chinese Lam page 4/20

(Fig. 2 Modern Mandarin Chinese Consonants)

12. Obstruent frequency hierarchies for place of articulation.

-Stops: Alveolar < Labial < Velar < Palatal < Uvular

True: MC has 6 stops: 2 alveolars /t, d/, 2 labials / p, b /, and 2 velars /k, g/ of the

following frequency hierarchies:

-Affricates : Palatal< Alveolar< Labial< Velar

True: MC has 6 affricates: 2 palatals /j [tɕ], q [tɕʰ]/, 2 alveolars / z [ts], c [tsʰ] /, 2

retroflexes: /zh[tʂ], ch [tʂʰ]/

-Fricatives: Alveolar >Labial >Palatal >Velar >Velar (The glottal /h/ is excluded)

True: MC has 6 affricates: 1 palatal /x [ɕ]/, 1 alveolar / s /, 1 velar / h [x]/

d) Tones

The Mandarin language has a fundamental difference from Western languages: it is tonal.

Tones are one of the biggest features in the Modern Mandarin Chinese language. Incorrect tones

can lead to non-understanding or misunderstanding. In Mandarin Chinese, there are four

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pitched tones and a "toneless" tone. The reason for this may be that the Chinese may have more

homophonic words than most other languages. Apparently tones help the relatively small number

of syllables to multiply and thereby alleviate but not completely solve the problem. Learning

Chinese in context, therefore, is very important. (Fig. 4)

The tone of a syllable may change in some situations. For example, 达 dá in 发达 fādá

(developed, advanced), as separate character it is pronounced as /dá/, but when put together with

fā , it may become toneless due to fast speech. In term of markedness, Chinese words with first

tone (high and level) is the least marked, and the fourth tone (from top to bottom) the most

marked. (Fig. 5)

Fig. 4 Chinese tone symbols and diagram

Fig. 5 Chinese tone marking description

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Constituent order and Morphological Typology

Most of Greenberg (1966) 45 universals of grammar with particular reference to

constituent order apply to Modern Mandarin Chinese in aspects of word orders and

morphological classification.

a) Word order
1. In declarative sentences with nominal subject and object, the dominant order is almost

always one in which the subject precedes the object.

True: In Mandarin Chinese, the dominant order is SVO in declarative sentences with

nominal subject and object.

e.g. Wǒ de dìdi ài qiǎokèlì (My younger brother likes chocolate)

I -GEN younger brother like chocolate. (我的弟弟爱巧克力)

2. In languages with prepositions, the genitive almost always follows the governing noun,

while in languages with postpositions it almost always precedes.

True: Chinese is the language with postpositions, the genitive always precedes the noun it


e.g. Nǐ de xiézi zài chuáng dǐ xià. (Your shoes are under the bed)
You –GEN shoe exist/lie bed- bottom under (你的鞋子在出纳各地下窗底下)

3. If in a language with dominant SOV order, there is no alternative basic order, or only OSV

as the alternative, then all adverbial modifiers of the verb likewise precede the verb. (This is the

"rigid" subtype of III.)

True: MC is a language with dominant SVO order. The word order OSV is the alternative

word order due to topicalization, and all adverbial modifiers of the verb precede the

verb it modifies.

e.g. Wǒ lǎozǎo jiù zhidào zhè gè xiāoxi le. (I’ve already known this news long ago.)
I long-ago -ADV. know this -CLASS news –PAST (我老早就知道这个消息了)

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Zhè gè xiāoxi wǒ lǎozǎo jiù zhidào le. (This news I’ve known already.)
This -CLASS news I long-ago -ADV know –PAST (这个消息我老早就知道了)

4. With well more than chance frequency, when question particles or affixes are specified in

position by reference to the sentence as a whole, if initial, such elements are found in

prepositional languages, and, if final, in postpositional.

True: MC Chinese is the language with postpositions, the Yes-no question particles are

specified in final position by reference to the sentence.

e.g. Nǐ xǐhuān zài yángguāng xià yóuyǒng ma? (Do you like swimming under the sun?)
You like –PART sun-shine under swim –Q.Part (你喜欢在阳光下游泳吗?)

5. Inversion of statement order so that verb precedes subject occurs only in languages where

the question word or phrase is normally initial. This same inversion occurs in yes-no questions

only if it also occurs in interrogative word questions.

True: In MC, there’s no inversion of statement order for the verb to precede subject in any

types of questions; the question word or phrase is not initial but posited at the place

where normally the answer would appear.

e.g. Nǐ xǐhuān qù nǎr lǔxíng? (Where do you like traveling?)

You like go where travel (你喜欢区哪儿旅行?)

6. In conditional statements, the conditional clause precedes the conclusion as the normal

order in all languages.

True: Conditional clause precedes the conclusion as the normal order in MC.

e.g. Rúguǒ wǒ dāng huángdì, nǐ jiù shì wǒ de huáng hòu .

If I be/do king, you -Cond. Adv. be I –GEN queen
( If I were a king, you would be my queen.) (如果我当皇帝,你就是我的皇后。)

7. When the descriptive adjective precedes the noun, the demonstrative and the numeral, with

overwhelmingly more than chance frequency, do likewise.

True: MC descriptive adjective precedes the noun, so do demonstrative and the numeral.

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e.g. Zhè sān nián lái tā dōu guò zhé jiānkǔ de rìzi
These three year –PART he -ADV spend –PROG hard -Adj.Part days
(He’s been spending difficult days for the last three years) (这三年来他都国着艰苦的日子。)

8. When the general rule is that the descriptive adjective follows, there may be a minority of

adjectives which usually precede, but when the general rule is that descriptive adjectives precede,

there are no exceptions.

True: MC has the general rule that descriptive adjectives precede, and there are no


e.g. Kě-ài de xióngmāo (cute panda); Piàoliàng de gōngzhǔ (beautiful princess)

Cute –ADJ.MAR. panda Beauty -ADJ.MAR. princess
(可爱的熊猫) (漂亮的公主)

9. When any or all of the items (demonstrative, numeral, and descriptive adjective) precede

the noun, they are always found in that order. If they follow, the order is either the same or its

exact opposite.

True: Any or all of the items (demonstrative, numeral, and descriptive adjective) precede

the noun, and the order is almost fixed. (Dem > Num > A > N)

e.g. Nà wǔ zhī lǎnsàn de hēi zhū (Those five sluggish black pigs)
That five –CL sluggish –ADJ.MAR black pig. (那五只懒散的黑猪)

10. If some or all adverbs follow the adjective they modify, then the language is one in which

the qualifying adjective follows the noun and the verb precedes its nominal object as the

dominant order.

False: In MC, the qualifying adjective precedes the noun, the verb precede its nominal

object as the dominant order, and all adverbs precede the adjective they modify.

e.g. Tā duì zhèyàng chǔlǐ gǎn dào fēicháng de bù mǎn.
He to such handling feel –COMP. extreme –ADV Mar. not satisfy
(He feels extremely dissatisfied with this way of handling things.) (他对这样的处理感到非常地不满。)

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11. If in comparisons of superiority the only order, or one of the alternative orders, is

standard-marker-adjective, then the language is postpositional. With overwhelmingly more than

chance frequency if the only order is adjective-marker-standard, the language is prepositional.

True: MC is the language which in comparisons of superiority the only order is standard-

marker-adjective, and MC is postpositional.

e.g. Shànghǎi shì Zhōngguó zuì dà de chéngshì.

Shanghai be China -SUP.MAR large -ADJ.MAR. city (上海是中国最大的城市)
(Shanghai is the largest city of China)

12. If the relative expression precedes the noun either as the only construction or as an

alternate construction, either the language is postpositional, or the adjective precedes the noun or


True: In MC, the relative expression or clause precedes the noun, and this is the only

construction. MC is postpositional, and the adjective precedes the noun it modifies.

e.g. Lǐ tàitai zhōngyú zhǎo dào le tā lísàn le èrshí nián de nǔēr.

Lee Mrs. finally find -Resu.Comp -Past she separate -Past 20 year -Adj/Mod daughter
( 李太太终于找到了她离散了二十年的虐日女儿。)
(At last Mrs. Lee found her daughter who had separated from her for 20 years)

- “zhǎo dào” is the combination of verb and its resulative complement that indicates the

result of action. In English, the verb “hear” has two semantic units, the sensory action ‘to listen’

and perception as a result of the action. The verb ‘see’ also has two semantic units with one

indicating the action of looking and the other indicating perception as the result. Therefore, there

are no such verbs as ‘hear’, ‘see’, ‘find’, ‘kill’ and so on in Chinese. For example, the verb tīng

听 (to listen) and kàn 看 (look) do not indicate whether the sound has been heard or whether the

object has been seen. Not having a built-in semantic unit indicating result, Chinese verbs have to

take an additional resultative element to report whether the action is successful. This element is

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called the resultative complement. It is placed immediately after the verb to indicate the result of

the action. In the case of dào 到 (to attain) must be used as a complement to form combos that

indicate result of zhǎo 找“find”.

i.e. zhǎo(look for ) + dào (attain the expected result) = zhǎo dào (find)

Universal 13. If the pronominal object follows the verb, so does the nominal object.

True: Chinese both pronominal and nominal object follow the verb.

e.g. Wǒ jí zhòng le nà gè nánhái. ( I hit the boy)

I hit -Resu.Comp -PAST that -CL boy (我击中了那个男孩。)

Wǒ jí zhòng le tā. (I hit him)

I hit -Resu.Comp -PAST he (我击中了他。)

b) Morphology

14. No language has a trial number unless it has a dual. No language has a dual unless it has a


True: MC has a dual and trial number pronouns. But it limits only the first person plural


e.g. wǒmen 我们: the exclusive plural “we”, but without “you".

zánmen 咱们: inclusive dual “we”, including “you” and “I”. (Fig. 3)

15. All languages have pronominal categories involving at least three persons and two


True: MC has pronominal categories involving at least 3 persons and 2 numbers. (Fig. 3)

16. If a language has gender distinctions in the first person, it always has gender distinctions

in the second or third person, or in both.

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False: MC has no gender distinctions in the first person, but it has gender distinctions in the

second and third person in written characters. However, the phonetic transcripts are

indistinctive. (Fig. 3)

e.g. Nǐ : 你 you (m), 妳 you (f); nǐmen : 你们 you (m. pl.) , 妳们 you (f. pl.)

Tā : 他(he) 她(she) 它 (it, inaminate) 牠 (it, aminate);

Tāmen : 他们, 她们,它们, 牠们

(they [m. pl.], they [f. pl.], they [n. inani. Pl], they [n. ani. Pl., respectively )

(Fig. 6 Modern Mandarin Chinese Pronominal categories)

17. If there are any gender distinctions in the plural of the pronoun, there are some gender

distinctions in the singular also.

True: MC has gender distinctions in the plural of the personal pronouns, and it also has

gender distinctions in the singular. (fig. 6)

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Chinese Lexical typology

Lexical typology in is becoming an important field of linguistic research and draws attention

of more and more researchers, as, for example, Newman (ed.) 2002, Goddard (ed.) 2008,

Bowerman et al. 2004 and Majid et al. 2007, Majsak & Rakhilina (eds.) 2007; for a recent

overview see Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2008. Generally, a study in lexical typology aims at (i)

discovering parameters of variation relevant for a given lexical group, and (ii) describing how

lexical systems are organized throughout languages.

The Mandarin Chinese language has a rich lexicon. The major word classes are verbs and

nouns. At this part of the paper, the article will provides accounts of possible parameters of

semantic variation within the Mandarin Chinese language in color and kinship terms.

a) Chinese color terms

Traditionally, Chinese considers only five colors basic: bái 白“white”, hēi 黑 “black”, chì

赤 /hóng 红 “red”, huáng 黄 “yellow”, and qīng 青 “dark blue”, and even though, like many

other languages, Chinese recognizes eleven basic color terms: bái 白“white”, hēi 黑“black”,

hóng 红“red”, huáng 黄“yellow”, lǜ 绿 “green”, lán 蓝“blue”, huī 灰“grey”, zōng 棕“brown”,

júhuáng 橘黄“orange”, zĭ 紫 “purple” and fĕnghóng 粉红“pink” (cf. Baxter 1983, Hardin &

Maffi 1997). For each color term, three types of meanings are identified: original meaning,

extended meaning, and abstract meaning.

- Three types of color meanings

* Original meaning : referring to the etymological meaning of the color term.

e.g. báiyín 白 银 (white silver); xuĕbái 雪 白 (snow white), and so on.

* Extended meaning : referring to the meaning extended from the original meaning through


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e.g. jiébái 洁白 (clean and white); chúnbái 纯 白(pure white) and so on.

* Abstract meaning : referring to the meaning that has been further abstracted from the

extended meaning.

e.g. míngbai 明 白(bright white : understand)

- Object-colored terms:

e.g. huángjīn shídài 黄金时代 (Gold-like yellow age : Golden Age);

Of the semantic functions, some of the color can be categorized into several types with a

special semantic meanings. Among them, bái”(white) has the most common types with its

particular meanings. For example, “white clean” as qīngbái 清白(guiltless), “clear understand”

as báihuà 白话, “white eye/ dislike” as báiyăn 白眼. In some situation, “white” in Chinese is

associated with the meaning of invalidation and terror, for example, “bǎida” 白搭 (all in vain)

and “bǎiqū” 白 区 (enemy controlled area). Some common examples to indicate “white

event/funeral” as báishì 白事, “white waste/in vain” as báifèi 白费, “white/legal market” as

báishì (opposite to “hēishì 黑市: Black/ illegal market) etc.

b) Chinese kin terms and kinship system (Appendixes)

In contrast to some Indo-European language kinship terms, the Chinese kinship system is

very complicated. Generation, age, and gender (bèifēn 辈分, niánlíng 年龄, xìngbié 性别) are

the base of hierarchy. Confucianism is the leading dominant philosophy of the Chinese people.

Confucianism provides a protocol for family life. Therefore, the hierarchy of generation-age-

gender defines an individual's position, role, privileges, duties, and liabilities within the family

order accordingly. Family members should know precisely where in the family they stand by

referring to this order: to whom each owes respect and obedience. Position in the family is more

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important than personal idiosyncrasies: people of the elder generation are superior to those of the

younger; within each generation, the elder are normally superior to the younger; men are

absolutely superior to women (Baker 1979). Everyone in the family owes obedience to the eldest

male because he is superior in generation, age, and gender. (Fig. 7)

Kinship is one of the most important principles of social organization in Chinese society.

This general hierarchy as Chinese traditional term “wǔdài tóngtáng” 五代同堂 (Five generations

in the same hall/house) can be viewed from generational hierarchy universal below (Croft,


Fig. 7 Chinese Nine Agnatic Kinship

Patrilineality (agnatic kinship) is a system in which one belongs to one's father's lineage; it

generally involves the inheritance of property, names or titles through the male line as well, this

system can be indicated by the following:

“ Gāo zēng zǔ fù ér shēn, shēn ér zǐ zǐ ér sūn”(高曾祖父而身, 身而子子而孫)

(Great-great-grandfather, great-grandfather, grandfather, father and self, self and son, son and


“Zì zǐ sūn zhì xuán zēng, nǎi jiǔ zú rén zhǐ lùn” (自子孫至玄曾, 乃九族人之倫)

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From son and grandson, on to great-grandson and great-great-grandson. These are the nine

agnates, constituting the kinships of man. ( From Three Character Classic or Trimetric Classic)


This paper has attempted to briefly describe the Chinese language in terms of phonological,

morphological, lexical and language structural typology. Chinese language is considered as one

of the analytic (isolating) languages, Chinese words tend to consist of free morphemes, i.e., they

are monomorphic. Nearly half Chinese words are monomorphic, and also monosyllabic. Since

analytic languages usually have relatively few derivational or inflectional morphemes, they tend

to form words by combining free morphemes into compounds. Thus a preponderance of both

simple and compound words tend to be a feature of analytic languages. Nearly half of all

Chinese words are monomorphemic, and most of the rest are compounds such as diànhuà 电话

(telephone) consisting of : Electrical and speech, or diànshì 电视(television) of electrical and

vision. Morphologically, in some ways, Chinese can also be treated as a synthetic (inflected)

language, a language which uses inflectional forms, such as affixes, as a primary means of

indicating the grammatical function of the words in the language. Many examples given in the

paper somehow reflect the synthetic features of the Chinese language in terms of word formation

and concept creativeness. Lexically, Chinese language consists of variety of cultural and moral

concepts, plentiful color terms and complicated kinship relationship. Chinese kinship system is a

unique form of Chinese indigenous terms that has its roots deep in Chinese culture. It is the

product of an agricultural society, a family-centered economy, and a hierarchical family system.

This scrupulous system of kinship terms not only reflects “certain aspects of the Chinese value,

but also carries several communicative functions, namely, the linking function, the mentation

function, and the regulatory function, in speech communication. It deserves some attention from

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those who are interested in intercultural communication studies. (Huang and Jia) This paper

only serves as a brief description of this interesting and yet almost untouched phenomenon in

cross-cultural communication universals. Due to the limit of research scope, many aspects of

linguistic concern must be leaving to later assignment.

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Works Cited and References

1. Baker, H. D. R. (1979). Chinese family and kinship. New York: Columbia University
2. Berlin and Kay. 1969. Basic color terms: their universality and evolution. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
3. C. C. Chu, 1983. A Reference Grammar of Mandarin Chinese for English Speakers .
4. Chinese language.
5. Cinque, G. (2005). Deriving Greenberg’s Universal 20 and its Exceptions. Linguistic
Inquiry 36: 315-332.
6. Croft , William. 2003. Typology and universals.2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press.
7. Guide to Pronouncing Mandarinin Romanized Transcription.
8. Hays, David, Enid Margolis, Raoul Naroll, and Dale R. Perkins. 1972. Color term
salience. American Anthropologist 74:1107-1121.
9. Joseph H. Greenberg, Some Universals of Grammar with Particular Reference to the
Order of Meaningful Elements, In: Joseph H. Greenberg (ed.). Universals of Language.
London: MIT Press, pp. 110-113.
10. J. F. De Francis, 1984. The Chinese Language.
11. Kay, P. and C. K. McDaniel. 1978. The linguistic significance of the meanings of basic
color terms. Language 54: 611-646.
12. Lùnwén Jí. Sounds of Classical Chinese. Beijing: Beijng University Press.
13. S. R. Ramsey, 1986. The Languages of China.
14. Watson, J. L. (1982). Chinese kinship reconsidered: Anthropological perspectives on
historical research. The China Quarterly, No. 92, 589-622.
15. Wierzbicka, Anna. 1990. The meaning of color terms: semantic, culture and cognition.
Cognitive Linguistics 1: 99-150.

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Appendix 1. Affinal relation Inflections


General inflections for kinship terms in Modern Chinese

1. wài 外 prefix to indicate maternal lineage on some of the relations

2. táng 堂 cousins that shares the same surname as ego
3. biǎo 表 cousins that do not share the same surname as ego
4. gāo 高 prefix for relations four generations removed senior of ego, ie:
great-great-grandparents (高祖父母)

5. zēng 曾 prefix for relations three generations removed, ie: great-

grandparents; great-grandchildren (曾祖父母; 曾孫)
prefix for relations two generations removed senior of ego, ie:
6. zǔ 祖
grandparents (祖父母), also a general prefix for relations two or
more generations senior of ego.

7. sūn 孫 prefix for relations two generations removed junior of ego, ie:
grandchildren (孫), also a general prefix for relations two or more
generations junior of ego.
8. xuán/yuán 玄/元 prefix for relations four generations removed junior of ego, ie:
great-great-grandchildren (玄孫/元孫)

Appendix 2 General inflections for kinship terms in Modern Chinese

A Typological Description of Mandarin Chinese Lam page 19/20

A Typological Description of Mandarin Chinese Lam page 20/20