Publication details

The near-synonymy of classifiers and construal operation : A corpus-based study of ke and zhu in Chinese


DOSEDLOVÁ Aneta LU Wei-lun

Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Review of Cognitive Linguistics
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords classifier; construal; quantifier; synonymy
Description This paper investigates the near-synonymy of classifiers, using Chinese ke and zhu as illustration. We find that in [QUANTIFIER] – [CLASSIFIER] – [NOUN], the two classifiers have overlapping semantic prototypes due to their similar behavioral profiles. However, despite a shared functional core, the two classifiers diverge in terms of which part of PLANT to profile. In particular, zhu highlights parts of PLANT that are small and vulnerable, such as flowers and seedlings. In addition, SMALL is another important conceptual characteristic exclusively associated with zhu, which gives it a distinctive set of peripheral members to include in that particular linguistic category, including MOLD, BACTERIUM, and even BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL SUBSTANCE. Another important difference is the quantifier that precedes, where ke tends to occur with lower numbers (typically under 10), while zhu with higher numbers (typically over 1,000). Accordingly, we conclude that [QUANTIFIER] – [ZHU] – [NOUN] tends to invoke a higher-resolution construal.