Publication details [#58273]

Tao, Hongyin and Kan Chen. 2014. The rise of a high transitivity marker 到 dao in contemporary Chinese. Co-evolvement of language and society. Chinese Language and Discourse 5 (1) : 25–52.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Transitivity has been approached from various discourse functional points of view. This paper describes 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’). It is argued 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. This paper takes the innovative uses of dao to be an instance of linguistic structure co-evolving with societal change.