Metaphorical extensions of the localizer”-cyu3(處)” as reflected in the nineteenth century Cantonese narrative data

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Abstract

By using newly found early Cantonese narrative data, this study explores the metaphorical extensions of the localizer –cyu3. We have decided to use narrative stories in hope that we can examine our data in natural contexts. In Mandarin Chinese, localizers such as –li, -shang are attached to make noun locative, e.g. fangjian-li (in the room), shan-shang (on the mountain), etc. These localizers are suffixes as they cannot be used on their own. In contemporary Cantonese, -dou6 is used to serve a similar function, as in fong2-dou6 (in the room). However, in written Cantonese materials produced in the nineteenth century, the term used to serve a similar function is not –dou6, but –cyu3, or its phonetically simplified form syu3, is a bound morpheme denoting ‘place’ (equivalent to chu in mandarin). To put it simple, locative nouns in Cantonese consist of a noun followed by ‘place’ in Cantonese. When –cyu3 is used with the existential verb hai2 in early Cantonese, it becomes an existential construction meaning to be here/there, etc. The metaphorical shift from space to aspect can be observed when it is used as a pre-verbal adverb, or post-verbal complement, signaling progressive and durative aspects respectively. Kataoka (2010) claims that –cyu3 was closely related to the development of the Cantonese progressive marker gan2 in its early stage. One of significant features of –cyu3 in the narrative data was there are tokens where –cyu3 appear at the sentence final position, following a verb phrase or an adjectival phrase. It is of our interest in two points : firstly the contemporary counterpart –dou6 does not share this function; and secondly this grammatical phenomenon could be compared with other Southern Chinese dialects, such as Min or Wu, in which localizers are used to serve non-spatial meanings (Liu1996,Shi1996). By combing through early Cantonese data, we claim that in early Cantonese, the sentence-final –cyu3 had metaphorically evolved to denote current state such as degree or size while preserving the locative construction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

Citation

Kataoka, S. (2013, December). Metaphorical extensions of the localizer”-cyu3(處)” as reflected in the nineteenth century Cantonese narrative data. Paper presented at The 18th International Conference on Yue Dialects, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China.

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