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  US-China Foreign Language

Volume 9, Number 1, January 2011

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Volume 9, Number 1, January 2011
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Language and Cognition: Insights From Williams Syndrome

Valentina Cuccio (University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy)


What is the relation between spatial language and spatial cognition? Is the way we talk about space based on our non-linguistic spatial representations? Presently, there are at least two major hypotheses about the nature of this relation. On the one hand, there is a cognitive hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, spatial language is grounded on spatial cognition. Our non-linguistic spatial representations constrain the acquisition of spatial language during ontogeny. On the other hand, contrary to the first assumption, there is a so-called Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. According to it, spatial language constrains spatial cognition. Languages with different frames of spatial reference induce speakers to different spatial reasoning. Today, there is a broad debate on this topic with empirical data supporting both hypotheses. We can try to evaluate these ideas by looking at the interaction between spatial language and spatial cognition in cases where the latter is impaired. This is the case of Williams syndrome. Williams syndrome is a rare neuro-developmental disorder with a genetic origin. Individuals with Williams syndrome show an uneven cognitive profile. They have severe visuo-spatial deficits in spite of apparently good language skills. Lately, several studies have been carried out on spatial language in Williams syndrome showing evidence of a selective deficit in linguistic encoding of spatial relations. The study of spatial language in Williams syndrome could show that spatial language is, in a complex way, grounded on spatial cognition.


This paper is an exploratory study on the syntactic structure of English, Korean and Chinese. Based on the minimalist approach proposed by Adger (2003), the study attempts to discover the relationships of the syntactic structure among the three languages via analyzing unergative sentence, unaccusative sentence and transitive sentence in these languages from a comparative perspective. This paper makes comparative analysis on the syntactic structure of English, Korean and Chinese, which brings out implication for the study of languages in the different typological types.


Translation Strategies of Chinese Cultural

Goh Sang Seong (Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia)

This paper discusses the translation methods for translating cultural elements from Chinese language into Malay language. A total of 1,228 words/phrases/sentences containing cultural elements from Shui Hu Zhuan (水浒传) (or its translated title Hikayat Pinggir Air), which are classified into five categories according to the cultural categorisation introduced by Newmark (1988), are used as research data. This study utilizes a group of theories as a whole. The relevant theories have been identified eclectically from the theories of translation and semantics. It is a quantitative study which uses the method of comparison, analysing cultural details based on the theories of translation and semantics to carefully examine translation strategies. The study shows that no method of translation can be said to be more dominant in translating cultural elements from Chinese language into Malay language. The translation methods for Chinese-Malay cultural elements are varied, which depends on the existence of its natural form and function in the target language. The form and function of Chinese language cultural elements whose equivalents exist in the Malay language is often addressed by using literal translation and synonyms. On the other hand, the form and function of Chinese language cultural elements which do not exist within the sociolinguistic setting of the Malay language are often translated by using explanations, functional equivalents, loan translations, the addition of words, borrowings, transliteration, footnotes and any combination of two (couplets) or three (triplets) of these methods.

Cross-Cultural Art: A Contemporary Approach to Traditional Chinese Landscape Painting

Christin Bolewski (Loughborough University, Leicestershire, UK)

Is it possible today in the age of globalization to create new modes of cross-cultural art based on a comprehensive understanding of one culture without being accused of mimicking or exploiting another? This paper includes the presentation of an example of contemporary western video art that attempts to explore cross-cultural influences between the West and the East, and to discuss this question from the western perspective. Proceeding from Chinese thought and aesthetics, the traditional concept of landscape painting “Shan-Shui-Hua” (“mountain-water painting”) is recreated within the new western genre of the “video-painting” as a single (flat) screen video installation. Confronting the tools of modern computer visualisation with the East Asian concept creates an artistic artefact counter-pointing and reflecting both positions.

New Dimensions in Language Teacher Preparation: Bridging Divides in Critical Need Languages

Marjorie Hall Haley, Rachel A. Grant, Melissa S. Ferro, Sherry L. Steeley

In the last few years, the United States Department of State has issued a call for the need for “highly qualified” foreign/world language teachers in “critical needs languages”. Two languages that fall into this category are Arabic and Chinese. Teacher education programs like our teacher licensure programs have responded aggressively and diligently. Through our teacher licensure programs and grant-funded summer institutes, we have been able to help fulfill this need. The present paper outlines two specific case studies that illustrate our work with Arabic and Chinese teacher candidates who, for the most part, were formally educated outside the US. Their cultural norms and beliefs about teaching and learning are weighed and examined through multiple lenses. Our experiences have been not only positive but also rewarding, for we have gained broader and deeper perspectives around co-constructing new knowledge.

A Case Study on Teaching Vocabulary and Strategies

Smaragda Papadopoulou (University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece)

New insights into lexical semantics and vocabulary development are important to academic success. Ways to increase meaning making with words are still a debate over teaching procedures in language acquisition. Core vocabulary words are examined at the case of the word “water” (nero), in a Greek case study with two children, 9 and 11 years old. We focus on function words and provide techniques to help young learners comprehend and use idiomatic phrases and sentences related to their activities, as they arise from everyday life to deal with educational practice. Vocabulary in context indicates how this case study offers insights into the process of language acquisition as a social structure. In understanding the plural faces of the word “water”, we assume that no core vocabulary is enough to help children think behind a teaching method the mastery of a word. Meanings of the word serve syntactic structures, idiomatic uses, proverbs, dialectical, etymologic and stylistic components in terms of pragmatics and the skill of guessing strategies in meaning making. To know a simple, concrete word is rather deceiving, therefore, there is often a lot more than one approach in teaching and learning vocabulary.

Chronotope in Daughters in Light of Bakhtin's Theory

LIU Hong-xiao (Tianjin Polytechnic University, Tianjin, China)

Paule Marshall is now acclaimed as the major American writer, well-known in academic circles for her work on the experiences of West Indians within African-American culture in the United States. This paper, in light of Bakhtin’s chronotopic theory, explores the protagonist Ursa's development of her consciousness of independence of black women who have discovered and accepted their heritage women ever supporting their resistance to oppressions to promote the development of the black community.



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Publication Information:

US-China Foreign Language is published monthly in hard copy (ISSN 1539-8080) and online (ISSN 1935-9667) by David Publishing Company located at 240 Nagle Avenue #15C, New York, NY 10034, USA.

Aims and Scope:

US-China Foreign Language, a monthly professional academic journal, covers all sorts of researches on literature criticism, translation research, linguistic research, English teaching and other latest findings and achievements from experts and foreign language scholars all over the world.


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