Thursday, December 31, 2015

Language Log » A new grammar of Mandarin

Dutch linguist Jeroen Wiedenhof's `A Grammar of Mandarin' is an exciting book. Can one say that about a grammar book?  Yes, if it is one that elegantly captures the language and identifies the structures which one hears.  And elucidates and explains them, placing them in the context of the language as it is now spoken.  I have been reading two or three pages a day for the last three months.  I am nearing the end and will be disappointed when I do.  Fortunately the last chapter is said to be a tour de force on the history of the script -  the Chinese language's major obstacle to learning and a key resource for grasping the language.
Language Log » A new grammar of Mandarin
by Victor Mair
I am happy to report the publication of Jeroen Wiedenhof's A Grammar of Mandarin (Amsterdam, Philadelphia:  John Benjamins, 2015).
This is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in Mandarin, both specialists and non-specialists alike.  I recommend it highly particularly for general linguists who do not know any Chinese language but who want a reliable, well-organized, and linguistically savvy treatment of all aspects of Mandarin.
“Jeroen Wiedenhof’s grammar offers a radically fresh look at how Mandarin is actually spoken, revealing on every page aspects of the spoken language which other descriptions have overlooked. Richly illustrated with examples drawn from real-life conversation and texts, the grammar is linguistically informed but uses a minimum of terminology, making its insights widely accessible to language learners.”
— Stephen MatthewsThe University of Hong Kong
“This is an important work that linguists have long been waiting for. Wiedenhof's erudite yet accessible grammar avoids presenting Mandarin Chinese from a Western point of view, thus challenging theorists and providing ample food for thought to all readers.”
— Martin HaspelmathMax Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
“Lucid and comprehensive, Wiedenhof's grammar is a significant contribution to Chinese linguistics. It explains and illustrates the structures of Mandarin faithfully and elegantly. An indispensable book for students and teachers of the Chinese language.”
— Charles N. Li, University of California, Santa Barbara

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