The verb GIVE and the double-object construction in Cantonese in synchronic, diachronic and typological perspectives

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Abstract

This dissertation examines the double-object verb [pei] 畀 and the double-object construction in Cantonese in diachronic, synchronic and typological perspectives. Apart from being a verb, [pei] 畀 also performs a number of syntactic functions as a result of grammaticalization. Our survey on other Chinese dialects and genetically unrelated languages shows that some of these functions (i.e. as an indirect object marker and a causative verb) are cross-linguistically attested while some (i.e. as a passive marker and a verb introducing instruments) are not. The chronological development of these functions in Cantonese will also be examined.
As for the indirect object marker function of [pei] 畀, we propose that two types of indirect object markers can be identified in Cantonese, which are cross-linguistically attested: The go-type and the give-type. The former is performed by directional verbs such as 過 in the 19th century Cantonese dialects while the latter is played by the double-object verb [pei] 畀 in modern Cantonese. Our survey on the oracle-bone inscriptions and other dialects shows that the go-type usually predates the give-type. With reference to the pre-modern Cantonese dialect materials and the recent field work data on the Conghua dialect, we will explore the syntactic and semantic factors contributing to the switchover from the go-type to the give-type.
The major syntactic construction in which GIVE involves is the double-object construction. Two typological patterns in terms of the word order of the objects are found across the Chinese dialects: IO DO and DO IO. The former is found in the Northern dialects while the latter in most of the Southern dialects. Over the last two decades, the non-native IO DO word order pattern has been gaining its ascendency in Hong Kong Cantonese due to the increasing influence of Putonghua and Modern Standard Chinese. A field work with 40 native speakers of Hong Kong Cantonese was carried out to find out the degree of usage and acceptance of the non-native patterns. We will also compare the results among the speakers in terms of age and occupation, which are correlated to their exposure to Putonghua or Modern Standard Chinese.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Citation

Chin, A. C.-O (2009). The verb GIVE and the double-object construction in Cantonese in synchronic, diachronic and typological perspectives. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Washington, United States.

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