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Master of Arts (M.A.)

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Chinese, linguistics, personal pronouns


There are four major patterns of the plural forms of personal pronouns in Modern Chinese, which are: Same Wording, Suffixation (Multisyllabic and Monosyllabic Suffixations), Sound Combination (Coda Suffix and New Wording), and Tonal Changes.

Same Wording was the original plural pattern since the singular form was also used as plural form in Old Chinese. Suffixation was already appeared in Middle Chinese. Author suspects that Suffixation was a concept inspired by non-Han languages such as the Buddhist Sanskrit. Each Chinese dialect chose a way to represent this concept based on its dialectal characteristic, thus there are many dialects in China. For example, the [men] suffix in many northern dialects are phonologically and semantically related to the Tang dynasty suffixes, while the m- initial might has been originated in Tang dynasty dialects, the -n ending might be a result of Altaic language influences.

Northern dialects have a simpler pattern due to the influence of Altaic languages, in comparison, the plural pattern of southern dialects are more complex due to the contact with Miao, Yao, Zhuang languages.


First Advisor

Zhongwei Shen