Journal directory listing - Volume 21-30 (1976-1985) - Volume 30 (1985)

A Study on the Formation and Structure of Chinese Polysyllabic Words
Author: Fang Tzuu Shen


n the first part of the article, this author intends to investigate the origin of Chinese polysyllabic words. The Chinese language was originally an isolated language, or monosyllabic language which means each word has only one syllable, representing one meaning. The author maintains that as lives became more complicated, monosyl-labic words became insufficient to describe all the phenomena which occurred.
Monosyllabic language also has a disadvantage of too many different words having the same pronunciations. Since Chinese words are very easy to be rearranged, different meanings can be expressed by putting different monosyllabic words together. Many new words were thus formed, and the Chinese language developed into a polysyl-labic language.
In the second part of the article, five types of the structure of Chinese polysyl-labic words are investigated: Combination, Derivation, Duplication, Addition, and Translation. Each type can be classified into several sub-types, and each sub-type can be grouped into even smaller categories. 1) Combination can be classified into five subtypes, such as Reorganization, Specification, etc. And Reorganization has five smaller groups, such as Parallel, Complement, etc. Specification has six smaller groups, such as metaphor terminology, etc. 2) Derivation can be classified into ten subtypes, such as Binary, Roll-Ups, etc. The sub-type Roll-Ups has three small categories, such as Alliteration, Non-Alliteration, etc. 3) Duplication can be classified into three small categories, such as Double-Duplication, etc. 4) Addition can be classified into Front-Addition, and Rear Addition. 5) Translation can be classified into Translation-by-sound, Trarislation-by-meaning, etc.
The Fang's classification of the structure of Chinese polysyllabic words is very meticulous, the theory well supported, and the examples adequately presented. From this article, the formation of Chinese polysyllabic words can be fully understood. There is a trend for 'Chinese to evolve into a polysyllabic language. By utilizing the principles of arranging monosyllabic words, Chinese people are capable of using only several thousands of words to fully express complicated lives, feelings, and ideas.

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