Contact-induced change in the Dongxiang language

The emerging category of classifier

in Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale
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Dongxiang is a Mongolic language from a peripheral linguistic branch mainly spoken by 300,000 speakers in Southeast Gansu in the People’s Republic of China. The Dongxiang language has been particularly influenced by the neighboring Chinese variety of Linxia, which has induced important changes on the phonological and lexical systems, while causing only a few changes on the syntactic level. In this paper I will discuss the emerging category of classifiers in the Dongxiang language by comparing different sources available. I will show that, even though measure words are present in all Mongolic languages, the use of classifiers is rare and has been induced by language contacts with Chinese. I will describe the different types of classifiers, borrowed or calqued, and will discuss in particular the use and functions of the classifier kozi. This classifier seems to have appeared quite recently and its origin is uncertain. I will show that it cannot be considered as a lexical item, as it does not always carry the semantic meaning of its Chinese counterpart, and cannot be identified as a structural borrowing either, as its syntactic functions are still unclear.

Contact-induced change in the Dongxiang language

The emerging category of classifier

in Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale

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    Figure 1

    Mongolic and Sinitic languages of the Gansu-Qinghai sprachbund.

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