Pivotal Constructions in Chinese

Diachronic, synchronic, and constructional perspectives

| National University of Singapore
ISBN 9789027201881 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
ISBN 9789027266057 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
This book presents a detailed analysis of the Chinese pivotal constructions (PVCs) and their diachronic developments from a constructionalist perspective, with the focus on the growth of the constructional hierarchies of these constructions and the changes with respect to both the form and meaning properties over time. The most important enabling factor behind the diachronic developments of the PVCs has been the sanction of the new instances conflicting with the constructions’ specifications. Throughout history the PVCs have grown along the two dimensions, i.e., inclusiveness and multileveledness, leading to a steady increase in the sizes of their constructional hierarchies. The two-dimensional expansion of the PVCs’ constructional hierarchies has been accompanied by the gradual relaxation of the conditions constraining the earliest instances, on multiple schematicity levels. This book will be valuable to scholars working on diachronic construction grammar and language change as well as to those interested in the history of Chinese language.
[Studies in Chinese Language and Discourse, 8]  2017.  xix, 243 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
List of tables, figures, and charts
The constructional approaches to language change
Chinese pivotal constructions
The taxonomy and constuctional hierarchy of Chinese pivotal constructions
The diachronic developments of Chinese pivotal constructions
The accumulative expansion of the constructional hierarchy
The relaxation of the original restrictive conditions


Arcodia, Giorgio Francesco
2013Grammaticalisation with coevolution of form and meaning in East Asia? Evidence from Sinitic. Language Sciences 40:148–167. Crossref link
Barðdal, Jóhanna, Elena Smirnova, Lotte Sommerer, and Spike Gildea
(eds.) 2015Diachronic construction grammar. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
Bisang, Walter
2004Grammaticalization without coevolution of form and meaning: the case of tense – aspect – modality in East and mainland Southeast Asia. In Bisang, W., Himmelmann, N.P., Wiemer, B. (eds.), 109–138.
2008Grammaticalization and the areal factor – the perspective of East and mainland Southeast Asian languages. In López-Couso, M.J., Seoane, E. (eds.), Rethinking Grammaticalization, 13–35. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
2009On the evolution of complexity: Sometimes less is more in East and mainland Southeast Asia. In Geoffrey, S., Gil, D., Trudgill, P., (eds.), Language complexity as an evolving variable, 34–49. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2010Grammaticalization in Chinese: a construction-based account. In Traugott, E.C., Trousdale, G., (eds.), Gradience, gradualness, and grammaticalization, 245–277. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
Bisang, Walter. Himmelmann, Nikolaus P., Wiemer, Björn
(eds.) 2004What makes grammaticalization – A look from its frings and its components. Berlin/New York : Mouton de Gruyter. Crossref link
Boye, Kasper and Peter Harder
2012A usage-based theory of grammatical status and grammaticalization. Language 88: 1–44. Crossref link
Brinton, Laurel J. and Elizabeth. C. Traugott
2005Lexicalization and language change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crossref link
Bybee, Joan L.
1985Morphology: a study of the relation between meaning and form. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
2003Mechanisms of change in grammaticalization: the role of frequency. In Joseph Brian D. and Richard D. Janda (eds.), The handbook of historical linguistics, 602–623. Oxford: Blackwell. Crossref link
2010Language, usage and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crossref link
2013Usage-based theory and exemplar representations of constructions. In Hoffmann, Thomas and Graeme Trousdale (eds.), The Oxford handbook of construction grammar, 49–69. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bybee, Joan L., Revere Perkins, and William Pagliuca
1994The evolution of grammar: tense, aspect, and modality in the languages of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cao, Guangshun
1995Jindai Hanyu zhuci [The auxiliary words in pre-modern Mandarin]. Beijing: Yuwen Press.
Chang, Li-li
2006Hanyu shiyiju biao beidong de yuyi fazhan [The semantic changes in the development of passive out of causative in Chinese]. Language and Linguistics 7(1): 139–174.
Chao, Yuen-ren
2010[1980]Hanyu kouyu yufa [A grammar of spoken Chinese]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
Croft, William
2001Radical construction grammar: syntactic theory in typological perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Crossref link
Croft, William and Alan Cruse D.
2004Cognitive linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crossref link
Dabrowska, Ewa
2010Native vs. expert intuitions: An empirical study of acceptability judgments. The Linguistic Review 27: 1–23. Crossref link
De Smet, Hendrik
2013Spreading constructions: diffusional change in the English system of complementation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dong, Zhiqiao
1986Zhongshi Hanyu zhong de sanlei teshu jushi [The three sentence patterns in Middle Chinese]. Zhongguo Yuwen [Studies of the Chinese language]1: 453–459
Fan, Fanglian
1963Cunzai j [On the existential sentences]. Zhongguo Yuwen [Studies of the Chinese language] 5: 386–395.
Fan, Xiao
1996Sange pingmian de yufaguan [The three-level view of grammar]. Beijing: Beijing Language Institute Press.
2000Lun zhishi jiegou [On the causative constructions]. In Yufa yanjiu he tansuo [The study and exploration on grammar] (10). 135–151. Beijing: Commercial Press.
Fisher, Cynthia, Henry Gleitman, and Lila R. Gleitman
1991On the semantic content of subcategorization frames. Cognitive Psychology 23: 331–392. Crossref link
Fried, Mirjam and Jan-Ola Östman
2004Construction grammar: a thumbnail sketch. In Fried and Östman (eds.), Construction grammar in a cross-language perspective, 11–86. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
Gisborne, Nikolas
2011Constructions, word grammar and grammaticalization. Cognitive Linguistics 22: 155–182. Crossref link
Givón, Talmy
1979On understanding grammar. New York: Academic Press.
1980The binding hierarchy and the typology of complements. Studies in Language, 4(3) 333–377. Crossref link
2001Syntax: an introduction, Vol. 2. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Goldberg, Adele E.
1995Constructions: a construction grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2006Constructions at work: the nature of generalization in language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2009The nature of generalization in language. Cognitive Linguistics 20(1): 93–127. Crossref link
Goldberg, Adele E. and Ray Jackendoff
2004The English resultative as a family of constructions. Language 80(3) 532–568. Crossref link
Grimshaw, Jane
1990Argument structure. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Gu, Yang
1997Guanyu Cunxian Jiegou de Lilun Tantao [The existential sentences in Chinese]. [Xiandai Waiyu [Modern Foreign Languages] 3: 14–25.
Hale, Ken L. and Samuel. J. Keyser
1987 A view from the Middle, Lexicon Project Working Papers 10, Center for Cognitive Science, MIT, Cambridge, MA.
Heine, Bernd and Mechthild Reh
1984Grammaticaliztion and reanalysis in African languages. Hamburg: Buske.
He, Leshi
2004[1986] Zuozhuan de “zhu zhi wei” shi [The “subject zhi predicate” pattern in Zuozhuan ]. In He Leshi, Zuozhuan xuci yanjiu [Studies on the function words in Zuozhuan] (2nd edition), 67–80. Beijing: Commercial Press.
Hilpert, Martin
2008Germanic future constructions: a usage-based approach to language change. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
2013Constructional change in English: developments in allomorphy, word-formation and syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crossref link
Himmelmann, Nikolaus P.
2004Lexicalization and grammaticalization: opposite or orthogonal? In Bisang, W., Himmelmann, N., Wiemer, B. (eds.), 19–40.
Hong, Bo and Min Zhao
2005Hanyu geiyu dongci de shiyihua ji shiyi dongci de beidong jieci hua [The changes of the verbs meaning ‘give’ into causative verbs and the causative verbs into prepositions indicating passive in Chinese]. In Shen, Jiaxuan, Fuxiang Wu, and Beijia Ma (eds), Yufahua yu yufayanjiu [Grammaticalization and research on grammar] (2), 36–52. Beijing: Commercial Press.
Hopper, Paul. J. and Elizabeth. C. Traugott
2003Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crossref link
Huang, C-T. James
1984On the Distribution and Reference of Empty Pronouns. Linguistic Inquiry 18: 321–337.
1987Existential sentences in Chinese and (in)definiteness, in Reuland, Eric J. and Alice G. B. ter Meulen (eds), The representation of (in)definiteness, 226–53. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Israel, Michael
1996The way constructions grow. In Adele Goldberg (ed), Conceptual structure, discourse and language, 217–230. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
Jiang, Shaoyu
2003Gei ziju, jiao ziju biao beidong de laiyuan [The historical sources of the passive constructions headed by gei and jiao. In Wu, Fuxiang and Bo Hong (eds.), 202–223.
Jiang, Shaoyu and Guangshun Cao
(eds.) 2005Jindai Hanyu yufashi yanjiu zongshu [A review of the studies on the history of the pre-modern Chinese grammar]. Beijing: The Commercial Press.
Lambrecht, Knud
1988There was a farmer had a dog: Syntactic amalgams revisited. Berkeley Linguistics Society 14(3) 19–339.
Langacker, Ronald W.
1987Foundations of cognitive grammar, Vol. I: Theoretical prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
2000aA dynamic usage-based model, in Barlow, Michael and Suzanne Kemmer (eds.), Usage based models of language, 1–64. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
2000bGrammar and conceptualization. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
2008Cognitive grammar: A basic introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Crossref link
2009Investigations in Cognitive Grammar. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Crossref link
LaPolla, Randy J.
1995Pragmatic Relations and Word Order in Chinese. In Downing, Pamela and Michael Noonan (eds.), Word order in discourse, 297–329. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
Lehmann, Christian
1985Grammaticalization: synchronic variation and diachronic change. Lingua el Stile 20: 303–318.
1988Towards a typology of clause linkage, in Haiman, John and Sandra Thompson (eds.), Clause combining in grammar and discourse, 181–225. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
1995[1982]Thoughts on grammaticalization (LINCOM Studies in Theoretical Linguistics 1). Munich/Newcastle: Lincom Europa.
2002New reflections on grammaticalization and lexicalization. In Wischer, Ilse and Gabriele Diewald (eds.), New reflections on grammaticalization, 1–18. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
Levin, Beth
1993English verb classes and alternations: a preliminary investigation. Chicago/London: Chicago University Press.
Li, Charles N. and Sandra A. Thompson
1981Mandarin Chinese: a functional reference grammar. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Li, Linding
1986Xiandai Hanyu juxing [Modern Mandarin sentence patterns]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
Liang, Yinfeng
2006Hanyu dongbu jiegou de chansheng yu yanbian [The emergence and evolution of the Chinese resultative construction]. Shanghai: Xuelin Press.
, Jiping
2003Hanyu yufa jichu [Foundation of Chinese grammar]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
, Shuxiang
1979Hanyu yufa fenxi wenti [Issues on the analysis of Chinese grammar]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
1982Zhongguo wenfa yaolue [An outline of Chinese grammar]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
(ed) 1984Xiandai Hanyu babaici [800 words in modern Mandarin]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
McCawley, James D.
1988The syntactic phenomena of English, Vol.1. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Mei, Tsu-lin
1981Xiandai Hanyu wanchengmao jushi he ciwei de laiyuan [The historical sources of the modern Mandarin sentence pattern marked by perfective aspect marker]. Yuyan Yanjiu [Studies in Language and Linguistics] 1: 65–77.
Nie, Wenlong
1989Cunzai he cunzai ju de fenlei [Existence and the categorization of the existential sentences]. Zhongguo Yuwen [Studies of the Chinese language] 2: 95–103.
Noël, Dirk
2007Diachronic construction grammar and grammaticalization theory. Functions of Language 14(2) 177–202. Crossref link
Noël, Dirk and Timothy Colleman
2010Believe-type raising-to-object and raising-to-subject verbs in English and Dutch: A contrastive investigation in diachronic construction grammar. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 15(2) 157–182. Crossref link
Norman, Jerry
1988Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ota, Tatsuo
1987 Zhongguoyu lishi wenfa [ A historical grammar of modern Chinese ]. Translated into Chinese from Japanese by Jiang, Shaoyu and Changhua Xu. Beijing: Peking University Press.
Pattern, Amanda L.
2010Grammaticalization and the it-cleft construction. In Traugott Elizabeth C. and Graeme Trousdale (eds.), Graduence, gradualness, and gramammaticalization, 221–243. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
2012The English IT-cleft: a constructional account and a diachronic investigation. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Crossref link
Peng, Rui
2006The development of Chinese pivotal construction: the perspective of grammaticalization. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Stanford University.
2007Caokong fanchou he xiandai Hanyu jianyushi [Manipulation and modern Chinese pivotal constructions]. Xiandai Zhongguo Yu Yanjiu [Contemporary Research in Modern Chinese] 9: 25–37.
2012Suyin jianyuju de ke jieshoudu he yiyi diaocha [A survey on the acceptability and meaning judgment of cause-complement pivotal constructions]. Zhongguo Yuwen [Studies of the Chinese Language] 6: 509–524.
2013A diachronic construction grammar account of the Chinese cause-complement pivotal construction. Language Sciences 40: 53–79. Crossref link
2016aChinese descriptive pivotal construction: taxonomy and prototypicality. Language & Linguistics 17(4): 529–573). Crossref link
2016bThe integration of exemplars and prior knowledge in the extension of schematic constructions: evidence from Chinese emerge-hide construction. Language Sciences 56: 1–9. Crossref link
Pinker, Steven
1989Learnability and cognition: the acquisition of argument structure. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Prince, Ellen
1981Towards a taxonomy of given-new information. In Code, Peter (ed), Radical pragmatics, 223–255. New York: Academic Press.
Ren, Ying
2000Jingtai cunzaiju zhong “Vle” dengyu “Vzhe” xianxiang jiexi [On the functional interchangibility between Vle and Vzhe in static existential sentences]. Shijie Hanyu Jiaoxue [Chinese Teaching in the World] 1: 28–34.
Rostila, Jouni
2006Storage as a way to grammaticalization. Constructions 1/2006 [http://​elanguage​.net​/journals​/constructions​/article​/view​/3070].
Sagart, Laurent
2004Vestiges of Archaic Chinese derivational affixes in modern Chinese dialects. In Hillary Chappell (ed.) Chinese grammar: synchronic and diachronic perspectives, 123–142. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sasse, Hans-Jürgen
1987The thetic/categorical distinction revisited. Linguistics 25: 511–580. Crossref link
Seuren, Pieter
1991The definition of serial verbs. In Byrne, Francis and Huebner, Thom (eds), Development and structures of Creole languages: essays in honor of Derk Bickerton, 193–205. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
Shi, Youwei
1992[1988]Huntun xing: “Wo xihuan ta laoshi” [Ambiguity: “Wo xihuan ta laoshi], In Huhuan rouxing — Hanyu yufa tanyi [Call for flexibility — research on Chinese grammar], 179–190. Haikou: Hainan Press.
Song, Shaonian
1994Hanyu jieguo buyushi de qiyuan zai tantao [The historical sources of the Chinese resultative construction revisited]. Gu Hanyu Yanjiu [Research in Ancient Chinese language] 2: 42–45.
Sun, Chaofen
1996Word-order chage and grammaticalization in the history of Chinese. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Tan, Fu.
1993Covert category change in isolating languages: the case of modern Chinese. Linguistics 31: 737–748.
Tang, Ting Chi.
1999Hanyu de “jianyushi:” jiegou yu gongneng [The pivotal constructions in Chinese: structure and function]. In Diwujie Hanyu yuyanxue guoji yantaohui lunwen xuanji [The proceedings of the 5th international conference on Chinese linguistics], 87–118. Taipei: Wenhe Publishing Company.
Tomasello, Michael
2003Constructing language: a usage-based theory of language acquisition. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Traugott, Elizabeth. C.
2003Constructions in grammaticalization. In Joseph B. D., Richard D. J. (eds.), The handbook of historical linguistics, 624–647. Oxford: Blackwell. Crossref link
Traugott, Elizabeth C.
2007The concepts of constructional mismatch and type-shifting from the perspective of grammaticalization. Cognitive Linguistics 18: 523–557. Crossref link
2008aGrammaticalization, constructions and the incremental development of language: suggestions from the development of degree modifiers in English, in Eckardt, Regine, Gerhard Jäger and Tonjes Veenstra (eds.), Variation, selection, development: probing the evolutionary model of language change, 219–250. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter:
2008bThe grammaticalization of np of np constructions. In Bergs, Alexander and Gabriele Diewald (eds.), Constructions and language change, 21–43. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Traugott, Elizabeth. C. and Graeme Trousdale
2013Constructionalization and constructional changes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Crossref link
Trousdale, Graeme
2008aConstructions in grammaticalization and lexicalization: Evidence from the history of a composite predicate construction in English. In Trousdale, Graeme and Nikolas Gisborne (eds.), Constructional approaches to English grammar, 34–64. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
2008bWords and constructions in grammaticalization: the end of the English impersonal construction. In Fitzmaurice, S. M., Donka Minkova (eds.), Empirical and analytical advances in the study of English language change, 301–326. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
2010Issues in constructional approaches to grammaticalization. In Stathi, Elke Gehweiler, and Ekkehard König (eds.), Grammaticalization: current views and issues [Studies in language companion series], 51–71. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
2012Grammaticalization, constructions, and the grammaticalization of constructions. In Davidse, Kristin, Tine Breban, Lieselotte Brems, and Tanja Mortelmans (eds.), Grammaticalization and language change: new reflections, 167–198. Amsterdam/Philadephia: John Benjamins. Crossref link
Villanueva, Monica Sanaphre
2010Analytic causative constructions in Medieval Spanish: the origins of a construction. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Rice University.
Wang, Li
1958Hanyu shigao [The history of Chinese]. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company.
1985[1943]Zhongguo xiandai yufa [Modern Chinese grammar]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
2003[1989]Hanyu yufa shi [A history of Chinese grammar]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
Wang, Hongjun
1987Hanyu biao zizhi de mingcihua biaoji zhi de xiaoshi [The disappearance of the nominalizer indicating self-designation zhi in Chinese]. Yuyanxue Luncong [Essays on linguistics] 14: 159–97.
Wei, Pei-quan
2000The causative constructions in Middle Chinese. Reprinted from The bulletin of the institute of history and philology, Academia Sinia, Vol. 71, part 4, 807–856.
Wiemer, Björn
2004The evolution of passives as grammatical constructions in Northern Slavic and Baltic languages. In Bisang, W., Himmelmann, N., and Wiemer, B. (eds.), 271–331.
Wiemer, Björn and Walter Bisang
2004What makes grammaticalization? An appraisal of its components and its fringes. In Walter B., Himmelmann, N., and Wiemer, B. (eds.), 3–20.
Wu, Fuxiang
1996Dunhuang Bianwen yufa yanjiu [Study on the grammar of Dunhuang Bianwen]. Changsha: Yuelu Press.
Wu, Fuxiang and Bo Hong
(eds.) 2003Yufahua yu yufa yanjiu [Grammaticalization and research on grammar] (1). Beijing: Commercial Press.
Xing, Xin
2004 Xiandai Hanyu jianyuju [ Modern Mandarin pivotal constructions ]. Beijing: Beijing Broadcasting Institute Press.
Xu, Dan
2003 Shi ziju de yanbian [The evolution of the shi-constructions]. In Wu, Fuxiang and Bo Hong (eds.), 224–238.
Yang, Yonglong
2001Zhuzhi Yulei wancheng ti yanjiu [Study on the perfective aspect in Zhuzi Yulei]. Kaifeng: Henan University Press.
Zhang, Yan
2001Cong Lüshi Chunqiu kan Shanggu Hanyu de ‘zhu zhi wei’ jiegou [The ‘subject + zhi + predicate’ construction in Old Chinese: evidence from Lüshi Chunqiu ]. Yuyanxue Luncong [Essays on Linguistics] 23. 83–98 Beijing: Commercial Press.
Zhang, Yujin
2001Jiaguwen Yufaxue [The grammar of the Oracle Bone Inscriptions]. Shanghai: Xuelin Press.
2004Xizhou Hanyu yufa [The Chinese grammar in Western Zhou period]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
Zhu, Dexi
1984Yufa jiangyi [The lecture notes of grammar]. Beijing: Commercial Press.
Ziegeler, Debra
2004Grammaticalisation through constructions: the story of causative have in English. Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics 2:159–195. Crossref link
BIC Subject: CFK – Grammar, syntax
BISAC Subject: LAN009060 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Syntax
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2016049066