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Is ‘幾(jǐ)’ an interrogative pronoun or a numeral?

  • The Journal of Chinese Cultural Studies
  • 2020, (50), pp.109-139
  • DOI : 10.18212/cccs.2020..50.005
  • Publisher : The Society For Chinese Cultural Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature > Chinese Literature > Chinese Culture
  • Received : October 9, 2020
  • Accepted : November 9, 2020
  • Published : November 30, 2020

Ko Young-ran 1 PARK, EUN SOK 2

1상명대학교
2서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Throughout the Chinese academia, 幾(jǐ)'s word-class has been recognized as a numeral or an interrogative pronoun, and some scholars view it as both a numeral and an interrogative pronoun both. However, no valid rationale for defining 幾(jǐ)'s word-class as such has been presented. We reviewed the situation of 幾(jǐ)'s word-class notation extensively through Chinese dictionaries, Chinese grammar books, and beginner's Chinese textbooks and considered the use of ‘幾(jǐ)’ from a historical and synchronic perspective. In this way, we concluded that ‘幾(jǐ)’ is a concurrent word. In addition, we prepared grounds for claiming ‘幾(jǐ)’ as a concurrent word, and also uncovered about the relationships between the meanings of the numerals ‘幾(jǐ)’, the relationship between the meanings of ‘幾(jǐ)’, and the word-class of ‘幾(jǐ)’ and the relationship between the numerals ‘幾(jǐ)’ and the interrogative pronouns ‘幾(jǐ)’ for the first time. ‘幾(jǐ)’ belongs to the word-class of numeral in terms of the distribution, but the reasons that it should also be recognized as an interrogative pronoun are as follows. First, if ‘幾(jǐ)’ is used in an interrogative sentence, it shows a multifunctional aspect related to the interrogative such as question, answer, and substitution. Second, ‘幾(jǐ)’ is not only used as an interrogative usage, but also used as a non-interrogative usage such as arbitrary reference and empty reference. This shows the same pattern as the development of other interrogative pronouns. Third, ‘幾(jǐ)’ has been frequently used in the context of interrogative since Archaic Chinese, so it eventually has become closer to an interrogative pronoun through interrogative “absorption of context meaning”.

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