The Grammar and Semantics of Abstraction in Classical Chinese

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Convener: University of Oxford China Centre

Speaker: Dr Christoph Harbsmeier

Abstraction is a crucial phenomenon in philosophical discourse. This talk will describe the basic division of classical Chinese nouns into count nouns, mass nouns and abstract nouns. It will concentrate on the syntactic definition, the semantic subclassification, and some morphological markings of abstractness in classical Chinese. A basic distinction will be made between modes of abstraction on the one hand and the closely related phenomena of generic reference of count nouns on the other. All this will be shown to be indispensable for a proper understanding of Chinese philosophical texts. 

Christoph Harbsmeier is Emeritus Professor of Chinese at the University of Oslo. Everybody welcome! No registration required.