Edited by Myriam Bouveret
[Constructional Approaches to Language 29] 2021
► pp. 195–222
Gei, ‘give’ in Mandarin Chinese, has been object of many studies due to its multifaceted properties and its ability to appear in a number of different structures. However, previous analyses focus only on some of all the possible structures where gei appears, while excluding others. In this paper, I aim at tracing a taxonomy of all the gei constructions found in the literature and elicited in questionnaires, and propose a unified analysis of gei that encompasses as many gei structures as possible. I propose an analysis of gei in terms of structure, interpretation and grammaticalization, one that links all the different occurrences of gei considered as one element in different structures. More specifically, I propose that gei is always a predicate whose different positions and interpretations can be seen as different stages of grammaticalization, which make it either a full verb or a weaker predicate. However, all the distinct stages of grammaticalization in which gei appears within a sentence maintain the general sense of “orientation” (in terms of Paris 1978, 1992). When gei is not a full lexical verb itself, its presence with its “orientation” general meaning has an effect on the transitivity of the verb that precedes or follows: when preverbal, gei highlights the role of the agent of the verb, when postverbal, gei reinforces the role of the recipient.