Preverbal and postverbal locative constructions in early Cantonese: The division of labor of coverbs as seen from the Cantonese version of Robinson Crusoe (1902)

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Abstract

In Putonghua, locative phrases are introduced with a coverb ‘在Zài’ and they may occur preverbally or postverbally. The preverbal locative phrase functions as an adjunct indicating the general location of VP. As for postverbal locative phrases, Li & Thompson (1989) claims that there are four classes of verbs that allow a postverbal locative phrase, namely (a) verbs of displacement, (b) verbs of posture, (c) verbs of appearing, and (d) verbs of placement. With these classes of verbs, the postverbal locative phrase functions as an argument denoting the location of object (transitive verbs) or subject (intransitive verbs) as a result of the event denoted by the verb.
In Modern Cantonese, locative phrases resemble those of Mandarin, and they are either introduced by ‘喺hai2’ or ‘响 hoeng2’. What is different from Putonghua is that Cantonese allows an object to appear between the verb and the locative phrase as in “放書包喺枱面 fong3 syu1 baau1 hai2 toi2 min2”, in which case Putonghua has to use the ‘ba’ construction. Takekoshi and Yokota (2007) examined early Cantonese texts and pointed out that early Cantonese used both ‘在zoi6’and ‘喺 hai2’ in colloquial speech, with ‘在zoi6’ being the major coverb, which was gradually replaced by ‘喺 hai2’ towards the beginning of the 20ᵗʰ century. While we observe similarity in terms of usage distribution in our early Cantonese data, we also find another locative coverb in early Cantonese that is little studied in literature, namely ‘倒 dou2’, e.g. “掣倒你舖頭賣個陣時你就話好嘅之{口理}”(1841 Bridgman). The rising tone morpheme ‘倒’ is believed to have evolved from the departing tone counterpart ‘到’ in many southern Chinese dialects (Wu 2002). Using Robinson Crusoe (辜蘇歷程, 1902) as a corpus, we propose that ‘在zoi6’, ‘喺hai2’, and ‘倒 dou2’ were concurrently used in the same early Cantonese text, with different functions in different positions. It is believed that ‘喺 hai2’ was mainly preverbal, ‘ 在zoi6’ much less restricted than ‘喺 hai2’, and ‘倒dou2’ postverbal denoting change of location or state with the verbs of displacement and posture. Copyright © 2017 22nd International Conference on the Yue Dialects.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

Citation

Kataoka, S. (2017, December). Preverbal and postverbal locative constructions in early Cantonese: The division of labor of coverbs as seen from the Cantonese version of Robinson Crusoe (1902). Paper presented at The 22nd International Conference on the Yue Dialects, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

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