The Third Person Pronoun and Demonstrative Resolution in Mandarin Chinese and Discourse Prominence

Main Article Content

Lin Zhu


Introduction: The third person pronoun and demonstrative resolution are influenced by multiple factors in Mandarin Chinese. The factors influencing reference choice and the relations between discourse prominence and pronoun resolution are discussed. It suggests discourse prominence is an essential organizational principle in reference resolution. The factors that influence pronoun resolution in Mandarin Chinese might be studied and explained from the perspective of discourse prominence.

Methodology: A formal operational scheme with conditional inference recursive partitioning tree and random forest analysis analyzing discourse data collected from a picture-sequence-based narrative elicitation method is provided.

Results: The results confirmed the idea that the discourse prominence-lending cues, including thematic role, animacy, grammatic role, topic, referential distance, and mentioned number, influence pronoun resolution in Mandarin Chinese. Animacy and reference distance might be involved in the important variances, and reference distance relates to topic maintenance, discourse dynamicity, and structural attracting.

Conclusion: The findings demonstrated that the discourse prominence-lending cues influence pronoun resolution in Mandarin Chinese. The third person pronouns often signal topic maintenance and high discourse prominence, while demonstratives often signal topic shift and low discourse prominence. Moreover, demonstratives often signal focus reinforcement. Therefore, topic and focus are also considered as the two crucial elements affecting pronoun resolution in Mandarin Chinese.

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How to Cite
Zhu , L. (2023). The Third Person Pronoun and Demonstrative Resolution in Mandarin Chinese and Discourse Prominence. Journal of Contemporary Language Research, 2(1), 57–67.
Research Articles


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