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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Three des, as structural particles in Chinese, are phonologically the same, but written differently. Through analyzing the written forms of these three homophonous particles, the research has come to some valuable conclusions that cannot be obtained by only observing the speaking language of Chinese. This paper studies the relationships among three “des” (de1 as “的”; de2 as “地”; de3 as “得”), which function as structural particles in the written language of Chinese, by examining their mutual replacements in blogs. The research regards every living language as a Complex Adaptive System (CAS) with continuing changes. So this study’s perspective not only helps us understand more deeply the structures with three des, but also opens a new window to explore the variation of Chinese on the cognitive linguistic layer, including syntactic and semantic aspects. Through analyzing the authentic data, which is obtained from a corpus built of articles in personal blogs including 400,000 Chinese characters, there are several worthy findings. First, the mutual replacements are asymmetric along with the generalization of de1. Secondly, there is a positive correlation between the frequency of replacements and the linguistic positive relevance among the three des, especially the syntactic and semantic aspects. Finally, the replacements among the vii three des present a diverse and complicated situation when investigating the written forms of idiolects. The syntactic factor plays the main role in the replacements among the three des. The related degree of de1 & de2 is significantly higher than the one of de1 & de3, which is especially obvious on the writers with relatively frequent replacements.


First Advisor

Zhongwei Shen

Second Advisor

Zhijun Wang

Third Advisor

David K Schneider