A syntactic classification of the synchronic use of gěi in Beijing Mandarin
A spoken corpus-based case study of its polyfunctionality
This study fills a gap in the literature on the polyfunctional nature of the Chinese ditransitive verb gěi ‘to give’, which has undergone semantic and functional extensions. Our approach differs from previous studies by focusing on a narrowly defined location in time and space, i.e. contemporary Beijing oral language, and by basing our linguistic analysis on data obtained through the systematic sampling of a corpus of spontaneous casual discourse. Based on the existing literature we produce a taxonomy of five extended functions and structures 1) causative verb, 2) passive marker, 3) benefactive/malefactive/dative marker, 4) disposal marker and 5) ditransitive suffix. Of these, the first four share the common linear structure [NP1 gěi NP2 V]. Applying this taxonomy to our data we identified the relative productivity of each of these functions and created a synchronic constructional network of gěi, revealing its complex network of connections.