Document Type

Campus-Only Access for One (1) Year

Embargo Period

11-11-2018

Degree Program

Chinese

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded

2018

Month Degree Awarded

May

Abstract

This computational study reveals the primacy of language contact in the variation of language (Sarah Grey Thomason 2003). The visualization and further analysis confirm the reconceptualization of Chinese linguistic history with the theory of Horizontal Transmission (Shen 2016). Horizontal Transmission situates the development of Mandarin and other Chinese dialects in a sociopolitical landscape as a cultural complex and introduces imperfect learning to the time-capsulated process of Language Shift as an inevitable social phenomenon.

The nature of language largely determines how it can change(Janda and Joseph 2003). We have to ruminate on the fact that the grammar of language is a symbolic system of representation while living language is a complex adaptive system generated and regenerated by individuals (Shen 2015). The descriptive capacity of Shen’s theory is compatible with the nature of language being dynamic idiolects alongside a real linguistic history embodied by individual speakers in time and space. The descriptive capacity of Shen’s theory is compatible with the nature of language being dynamic idiolects alongside a real linguistic history embodied by individual speakers in time and space. Only by understanding the change mechanism of Chinese from the perspective of language contact and through the lens of language shift, the variation of Mandarin and emergence of Chinese dialects find their explanations in a salient chain of logic to create a holistic account of Chinese evolution where the intertwined influence of languages finds its manifestation.

First Advisor

Zhongwei Shen

Second Advisor

Amanda C. Seaman

Third Advisor

David K. Schneider

Available for download on Sunday, November 11, 2018

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