Contrary to many Chinese linguists who regard the historical development of the conjunctions rán and rán'ér as identical, I argue that the two are in fact distinct. Through a thorough analysis of occurrences of these conjunctions in twelve texts from the Archaic and Mediaeval Chinese periods, I show that ran, originally a verbal demonstrative occurring between clauses that are not semantically coherent, grammaticalized into a conjunction under the influence of the context. The conjunction rán'ér shows a distinct pathway of grammaticalization: it originally derived from instances of collocation of the demonstrative rán and the conjunction ér, and underwent lexicalization to be reanalyzed as a word. I argue that the context is very important in the process of grammaticalization of the two conjunctions.

  • Cahiers deLinguistique-AsieOrientale 39(2): 213-245 (2010) 0 CRLAO-EHESS 131 Bd Saint Michel 75005 Paris 0153-3320/2010/039-213

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