Linguistics: Different grammaticalization patterns in Mandarin, Cantonese and Thai: A case study of verbs for ‘take’
Different grammaticalization patterns in Mandarin, Cantonese and Thai: A case study of verbs for ‘take’
Prof Kingkarn Thepkanjana Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Verbs for ‘take’ originally occurring in serial verb constructions in the Sinitic languages tend to grammaticalize into object markers. These verbs especially in Mandarin are one of the most popular research topics in Chinese linguistics. This study chooses the verbs for ‘take’ in two Sinitic languages as the object of study, namely, bǎ in Mandarin and zœng1 in Cantonese. In addition, it also looks into the grammaticalization of the verb ɂaw ‘take’ in Thai, a mainland Southeast Asian language. It aims to examine patterns of grammaticalization of the verbs for ‘take’ in Mandarin, Cantonese and Thai and to account for differences. It is found that bǎ in Mandarin and zœng1 in Cantonese currently function as object markers in disposal constructions. However, the latter has more restrictions in usage and, consequently, is much less productive than the former. Unlike Mandarin and Cantonese, ɂaw in Thai has not been grammaticalized as an object marker but rather as a pragmatic marker occurring sentence-finally. Such differences in grammaticalization patterns of the three verbs for ‘take’ in Mandarin, Cantonese and Thai are accounted for in terms of (1) different constituent orders in the three languages, i.e. the modifier-head order vis-à-vis the head-modifier order, and (2) the different influences of Altaic vs. Mainland Southeast Asian languages.