From exclusive to adversative meaning: A diachronic and cross-linguistic perspective

Gregoire Adalbert WINTERSTEIN

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


A recurring trend in a wide variety of typologically unrelated languages is that markers of exclusion and restriction such as French seulement, English only or Japanese tada can be used in the same fashion as adversative connectives such as mais, but or kedo. While these uses have been identified, no explanation has been proposed to account for this cross-linguistic regularity or how one meaning was derived from the other. In this work, I will look at these questions by characterizing the cross-linguistic differences that exist between the uses of these markers and then propose a diachronic account of the pragmaticalization of the adversative meaning based on the original exclusive meaning. I will notably examine in detail the case of Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), which is rich in both exclusive and additive markers of various types (adverbs, conjunctions and sentence final particles). I will show that Cantonese and Mandarin sport one connective which originated as an exclusive marker but now is mostly used as an adversative (bat1gwo3/bu4guo4), and that current exclusive markers such as zing6hai6/zhi3shi4 also allow adversative usage in some circumstances. Finally, I will investigate the case of the Cantonese exclusive sentence final particle ze1 and show that it also entertains a special relationship with adversativity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


Winterstein, G. (2016, May). From exclusive to adversative meaning: A diachronic and cross-linguistic perspective. Paper presented at The workshop: Researching pragmatic particles in communication: Cognitive, argumentative and social dimensions, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.


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