Chapter published in:Current Studies in Chinese Language and Discourse: Global context and diverse perspectives
Edited by Yun Xiao and Linda Tsung
[Studies in Chinese Language and Discourse 10] 2019
► pp. 28–56
Usage based language change and exemplar representations in Beijing Mandarin Chinese
This study offers support to usage-based studies to promote the importance of everyday language use in language development and grammaticalization. Specifically, the study presents a new construction in Beijing Mandarin Chinese that currently co-occurs with its original form, both in spoken language and written texts. The change is another instance of phono-syntactic conspiracy (Tao 2002, 2006, 2009). It starts from phonological reduction and ends in a syntactic change of a highly frequently used rhetorical question 不是…吗: ‘Isn’t it the case that….’ However, the process differs from previous findings (Bybee 2010) in that the grammaticalization process involves usage frequency as well as cognitive, cultural and social factors. The findings further support the view that language and grammar are fostered and conditioned through human communication.
Keywords: grammaticalization, frequency, chunking, phonological fusion, Mandarin tones, phono-syntactic conspiracy, discourse-functional linguistics, bu35shi…ma (不是…吗)?
Published online: 15 April 2019
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Cited by 1 other publications
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