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Language InterruptedSigns of Non-Native Acquisition in Standard Language Grammars$
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John McWhorter

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195309805

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309805.001.0001

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Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese

“Altaicization” or Simplification?

Chapter:
(p.104) 5 Mandarin Chinese
Source:
Language Interrupted
Author(s):

John McWhorter

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309805.003.0006

This chapter shows that while Altaic languages had a decisive effect upon Mandarin, transfer was a relatively minor factor, while reduction due to non-native competence was comprehensively transformative. The evidence also suggests that the crucial locus of transformation was not the occupations by Genghis Khan (13th through 14th centuries) or the Manchus (1644-1911), but the widespread resettlement of conquered and dispossessed peoples amid Han Chinese on the northern Chinese frontier from the 600s through the 800s under the Tang dynasty. A comparison of Mandarin with its sister languages in nine aspects of grammar is presented.

Keywords:   Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, transfer, transformation, Tang dynasty, languages, structural reduction

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