China seminar 6 Nov on Mandarin Chinese “Heart” Expressions


China Seminar


Date: Wednesday 6 November 2013

Time and place: 15:15, Arsenaal 001


A Pragmatic Analysis of Mandarin Chinese Heart Expressions



Shelley Ching-yu Hsieh

Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan

International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden University, the Netherlands






This study discusses the Chinese lexeme xin “heart” and its expressions, based on Sweetser’s mind-as-body hypothesis (1990). The meaning of Chinese heart can be subsumed under physical action or mental activity. According to pragmatic discourses, xin-expressions can be classified into four categories: (1) individual behavior or character, (2) interpersonal behavior, (3) people and event, and (4) people and community.


We examined xin-expressions in two Chinese corpora of Academia Sinica to illustrate the pragmatic evolution of xin. The result shows that the use of xin-expressions in individual discourse becomes more frequent. There are innovations in the discourse of interpersonal behavior; those in the discourse of people and event change over time. All these are developing toward the tide of globalization.


The linguistic subfields of Semantics and Pragmatics are not distinct from one another, but have virtual interactions between each other which are confirmed in this study.






This is the fourth lecture in the China Seminar series of this academic year.