The complexity of liao ‘finish’ and its weakened form le in the Shangshui Dialect of Central Plains Mandarin, Henan Province
In the Shangshui dialect, a sub-branch of Central Plains Mandarin, the functional words liao55 /liao0and le0, both derived from the verb liao55 ‘finish’, yet present very complex functions, and both of them only partially correspond to le0 in Standard Mandarin in function. It is found that liao55 and its weakened form liao0 take on diverse functions as a verb, a resultative complement, a completive marker, a perfect, or a conditional marker, and le0 shows a neat correspondence between its syntactic position and its grammatical meaning: the one directly attached to the main verb (M-le0) is a past perfective marker, and the other at the sentence final position (F-le0) is a marker indicating the change of a state, as in standard Mandarin. The co-occurrence of liao55, M-le0 and F-le0 doesn’t represent the simple composition of the grammatical meanings of those elements, while liao55…F-le0 and M-le0…F-le0 can be regarded as fixed constructions whose meanings are not completely transparent. Liao55 and its weakened form liao0 and le0 constitute a semantic cluster centralized on the ‘finishing’ meaning. The superimposition of meanings is commonly presented in the usage of liao55, liao0, le0 and their combinational forms, which means each of them can take on several grammatical meanings simultaneously when they occur in a particular context, and it is the superimposing of meanings that motivates the development of liao55 from one function to others. Liao55 and le0 only partly overlap with the corresponding forms in other dialects or languages, which specify the phenomenon of trans-category correspondence proposed by Liu (2013).