Speech without words? An Essay Endeavouring a Probability That the Language of China Has No Words
This essay argues that traditional criteria for wordhood do not work well for Chinese. Stress plays a minor role and cannot be used to determine phonological wordhood. There is little or no inflection to help us define the morphological word. Morphological compounds and syntactic word combinations are based on the same structures. Morpheme combinations are seldom absolutely inseparable. Wordlike usage of so-called bound forms is extremely common. It seems natural to conclude that Chinese has no words, only morpheme combinations with varying degrees of cohesion.
Keywords: word, morpheme, lexical item, Chinese, compound, syntax vs. morphology.
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