International Journal of Language & Linguistics

ISSN 2374-8850 (Print), 2374-8869 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijll

The Semantic Changes of Tongzhi and Shifu
Yonghou Liu, Xiaomin Chen

Address terms, regarded as an irreplaceable group of lexis in social communication and the barometer of interpersonal relationship, are an important area in language study. The change of the times and the update of the values can all bring about changes to them. The present paper intends to reveal the most updated changes of the two general address terms in Chinese—tongzhi ‘comrade’ and shifu ‘master, hoping to get a detailed and systematic understanding of their semantic “ups and downs”, and further to unearth the enlightenment they might provide in both semantic change and language system. Semantic change is usually the unintended result or a byproduct of an intentional conduct aimed at realizing certain social and expressive goals (Wong, 2003); it is also an objective requirement of language and cognitive economy. Moreover, chain shifts prone to occur in the semantic inventory of existing linguistic forms to keep language system in balance.

Full Text: PDF