Article published in:Current Trends in Chinese Discourse
Edited by Wei Wang and Linda Tsung
[Chinese Language and Discourse 5:1] 2014
► pp. 25–52
The rise of a high transitivity marker 到 dao in contemporary Chinese
Co-evolvement of language and society
Transitivity has been approached from various discourse functional points of view. In this paper, we describe the emergence in standard Chinese of a marker of high transitivity, 到 dao ‘reach’, in syntactic contexts where it has not been attested before (e.g., 帮助到你 bangzhu dao ni ‘help you’). We argue that this emergence is associated with a number of factors: the semantic properties of the main verb, dialectal influences, and recent social trends towards consumerism and an emergent “yuppie” identity in contemporary Chinese urban life. We take the innovative uses of dao to be an instance of linguistic structure co-evolving with societal change.
Keywords: transitivity, language change, dao ‘’, grammaticalization, Emergent Grammar
Published online: 12 September 2014
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No author info given
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