Open Journal Systems

A Philosophical Investigation of Catchwords in Chinese

Qiao Huang


Catchwords spread rapidly because of their simple form and strong replicability. New catchwords enter our daily life every once in a while. Therefore, the study of catchwords is extremely urgent, because the study of language is the study of human life. This article takes the catchword ‘wo keneng yudao le jia N’ (I might encounter fake N) as an example to discuss its internal structure (which has been largely ignored in the existing research). The focus is on the study of the adjective ‘fake’ and its combined meaning with the noun after. Based on this, the meaning generation mechanism of the catchword is analyzed, including the relationship between necessity and probability, the evolution of meaning of the catchword, and the precipitation of construction meaning. Finally, the philosophical basis of communicative mechanism of the catchword is clarified. The main line of this study is to provide philosophical foundation for the popularity of catchwords.

Full Text:



Burke, K. Language as Symbolic Action. Berkeley: University of California Press; 1966.

Cappelle, B., Denis, P. & Keller, M. Facing the facts of fake: A distributional semantics and corpus annotation approach. Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association 2018; 6: 9-42.

Carston, R. Thoughts and Utterances: The Pragmatics of Explicit Communication. Oxford: Blackwell; 2002.

Cavell, S. Declining decline. In: Mulhall, S. (ed.). The Cavell Reader. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing; 1996. p. 321-352.

Chao, Y. R. A Grammar of Spoken Chinese. Berkeley: University of California Press; 1968.

Chen, J. A multidimensional study on ‘…keneng…jia (de) N’ structure. Journal of Chongqing Three Gorges University 2019; 2: 110-117.

Deng, H. A textual research of the catchword ‘I might V fake N’. Modern Chinese 2017; 4: 125-127.

Dummett, M. What do I know when I know a language? In: Baghramian, M. (ed.). Modern Philosophy of Language. Washington D.C.: Counterpoint; 1999. p. 309-324.

Farsi, A. A. Classification of adjectives. Language Learning 2010; 37: 45-60.

Gibbs, R. W. A new look at literal meaning in understanding what is said and implicated. Journal of Pragmatics 2002; 34: 457-486.

Goldberg, A. E. Constructions: A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1995.

Huang, Y. Relevance and neo-Gricean pragmatic principles. In: Schmid, H. (ed.). Cognitive Pragmatics. Berlin: Walter de Gruyer; 2012. p. 25-46.

Jassem, K. Semantic classification of adjectives on the basis of their syntactic features in Polish and English. Machine Translation 2002; 17: 19-41.

Jaszczolt, K. M. Default semantics: Foundations of a compositional theory of acts of communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2005.

Jaszczolt, K. M. Meaning in Linguistic Interaction: Semantics, Metasemantics, and Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2016.

Kamp, H. Two theories about adjectives. In: Keenan, E. (ed.). Formal Semantics of Natural Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1975. p. 123-155.

Kamp, H. & Partee, B. Prototype theory and compositionality. Cognition 1995; 2: 129-191.

Kuang, C., Yang, H. & Li, Z. The analysis of we-media buzzword ‘I might V counterfeit N’ from the perspective of memetics. Modern Chinese 2018; 4: 84-88.

Li, H. Linking verb: home of people’s being in sentence. Foreign Language Research 2006; 29: 29-33.

Lepore, E. & Stone, M. Imagination and Convention: Distinguishing Grammar and Inference in Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2015.

Lu, Y. An analysis of the catchword ‘might V fake N’ construction. Sinogram Culture 2017; 11: 37-39.

Medin, D. & Shoben, E. Context and structure in conceptual combination. Cognitive Psychology 1988; 20: 158-190.

MacFarlane, J. Relativism and disagreement. Philosophical Studies 2007; 132: 17-31.

Putnam, H. Mind, Language and Reality: Philosophical Papers, vol2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press;1975.

Partee, B. 2003. Are there privative adjectives? Paper presented at Conference on the Terry Parsons. University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 7 and 8 February, 2003.

Picazo Jaque, C. Are mental representations underdeterminacy-free? Synthese 2019; 196: 633-654.

Predelli, S. Contexts: Meaning, truth, and the use of language. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2005.

Qian, G. On the infinite-increasing and infinite-decreasing borderline cases in vague references. Foreign Language Teaching and Research 2015; 47: 3-8.

Qian, G. Non-tool manner language: a study of western philosophy of language. Foreign Languages and Their Teaching 2001; 18: 2-6.

Quine, W. V. O. Two dogmas of empiricism. The Philosophical Review 1951; 60: 20-43.

Sperber, D. & Wilson, D. Relevance: Communication and Cognition. London: Basil Blackwell; 1986.

Verspoor, C. M. Contextually-dependent Lexical Semantics [PhD thesis]. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh; 1997.

Wang, Y. Revision on construction coercion: lexical coercion and inertia coercion. Foreign Languages and Their Teaching 2009; 26: 5-9.

Wang, Y. The interaction between constructional coercion and lexical coercion with its underlying metonymic mechanism: An analysis of English grammatical and verbal aspects. Foreign Language Teaching and Research 42013; 5: 657-668.

Warren, B. C. Classifying Adjectives. Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis; 1984.

Wittgenstein, L. Philosophical Investigation. Oxford: Basil Blackwell; 1953.

Wittgenstein, L. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. London: Routledge; 2001. [This translation first published in 1961, Revised edition in 1974]

Wu, Y. A study of ‘Subject might V fake N’ construction from a triangle in grammar research. Sinogram Culture 2019; 5: 39-41.

Xu, M. The game mentality and game elements of catchwords: Take the example of irrelevant reference. Contemporary Rhetoric 2012; 31: 36-42.

Zipf, K. G. Human Behavior and the Principle of Least Effort: An introduction to Human Ecology. Cambridge: Addison-Wesley Press; 1949.

(80 Abstract Views, 33 PDF Downloads)


  • There are currently no refbacks.