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On Fri, 17 Nov 2000, H. S. Teoh wrote:

> Hmm, it seems, after I think about it, that there are actually *three*
> different constructions we're talking about here:
> 1)      adjective without "de", eg. "hong2 che1" (red car)
>         Very tight binding, can easily pick up idiomatic meanings.
> 2)      adjective with "de", eg. "hong2 de che1" (car which is red)
>         Not so tightly binding, doesn't have idiomatic meanings, and
>         usually describes a particular instance of "car" which is "red"
>         (rather than a general category).
> 3)      relative clause, eg. "che1 shi4 wo2 chuang4 huai4 de" (car [which]
>         is the one I crashed)
>         Very loose binding, almost behaving like an adjoined sentence.
>
> But the monkey wrench in all of this is that, depending on context, (2)
> and (3) may be interchangeably used to express the same idea. So perhaps
> it's more of a grammatical differentiation than anything else...

Then it may be merely a difference between light and heavy relative
clauses.  In English, a light relative clause can hold the subject
slot:

        Who does not work, does not eat.

But a heavier relative clause needs to go to the end, with a dummy
"it" inserted in the apparent subject slot:

        It is a wise child who knows his own father.

which would sound bizarre as:

        *Who knows his own father is a wise child.

> CAVEAT: my dialect of Mandarin may not be 100% the same as the one they
> use in mainland China. So don't take this as gospel truth :-)

What, you speak Old Testament Chinese?  :-)

--
John Cowan                                   [log in to unmask]
One art/there is/no less/no more/All things/to do/with sparks/galore
        --Douglas Hofstadter