Linguistics and Literature Studies Vol. 8(4), pp. 206 - 214
DOI: 10.13189/lls.2020.080406
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Semantic and Syntactic Ambiguities in the Acquisition of Chinese Modal Verbs: Based on Intralingual and Interlingual Differences


Lai Peng *
School of Foreign Languages, Sun Yat-sen University, China

ABSTRACT

Given the complexities which lie in the Chinese modal system, many Chinese teachers may feel that it is a daunting task to teach Chinese modal verbs to learners from other countries. Taking Chinese modal verbs "会" (hui) and "能" (neng) as the focus of the study, this paper analyzes and exemplifies the ambiguities in the acquisition of Chinese modal verbs from both semantic perspective and syntactic perspective in the aim of shedding light on the polysemous and indeterminate features of Chinese modal verbs and increasing learners' tolerance of ambiguity caused by polysemy and indeterminacy. Semantic ambiguity is illustrated by the use of semantic components and fuzzy set figures. Syntactic ambiguity is revealed through exemplified inconsistencies in grammatical distinction of root modality and epistemic modality. Mixed ambiguities of the above two are shown through transfer errors made by learners of Chinese. Analysis of the three types of ambiguity is based on both intralingual differences among Chinese modal verbs and interlingual differences between Chinese and English modal systems. It is revealed that ambiguity results from one-to-more correspondence in form-meaning mapping within the Chinese modal system and one-to-more correspondence between the English and Chinese modal verbs. As tolerance of ambiguity is needed for successful acquisition, it is hoped that the ambiguities identified in this paper can help Chinese teachers find a way to increase the learners’ tolerance of ambiguity and can provide a key for researchers of Chinese to unlock more inherent features of modal verbs.

KEYWORDS
Semantic Ambiguity, Syntactic Ambiguity, Tolerance of Ambiguity, Modal Acquisition, Chinese Modal Verbs

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] Lai Peng , "Semantic and Syntactic Ambiguities in the Acquisition of Chinese Modal Verbs: Based on Intralingual and Interlingual Differences," Linguistics and Literature Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 206 - 214, 2020. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2020.080406.

(b). APA Format:
Lai Peng (2020). Semantic and Syntactic Ambiguities in the Acquisition of Chinese Modal Verbs: Based on Intralingual and Interlingual Differences. Linguistics and Literature Studies, 8(4), 206 - 214. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2020.080406.