With data from over a thousand regional varieties of Chinese, the paper presents a comprehensive survey of ditransitive constructions in Chinese dialects and their alignment types, focusing in particular on delving in system-internal and external factors correlating with the observed typological distinctions. It starts with questioning the validity of one of Hashimoto’s (1976) well-known parameters for North-South typological classification of Chinese – i.e., the double object construction (DOC) takes the form of V-OR-OT in Northern Chinese and V-OT-OR in Southern Chinese, the latter also known as the ‘Inverted DOC’ (IDOC), – based on the fact that two distinct groups of Southern Chinese, i.e., Min and Southwestern Mandarin spoken in Southwestern China, tally unexpectedly with Northern Chinese and only allow the form of V-OR-OT. It is subsequently found that the distinction is strongly correlated with the typology of the generalpurpose verb of giving (the verb ‘to give’). All dialects with DOC possess an underived ditransitive verb ‘to give’, whereas those with IDOC in general lack such as verb, using instead the combination of a monotransitive handling verb and an allative preposition, i.e., the dative construction in the form of ‘take OT to OR’, to express the ‘give’-type ditransitive event. This finding naturally leads to the following conclusions: (1) it is the loss of the verb ‘to give’ that triggers the loss of DOC in the latter group of dialects, which consequently renders the dative construction as the only ‘give’-type ditransitive construction in such dialects; (2) the IDOC is in nature an indirective construction (dative construction) with merely the dative marker left out, and the driving force of the omission is nothing but a high usage frequency of the indirective construction.
It is further observed that the English-like dative alternation between the DOC and the dative construction existing in Chinese for thousands of years since Archaic Chinese is only preserved in a small fraction of its modern varieties. The majority of Chinese dialects have undergone a typological shift from the mixed type to either the DOC-type (predominantly Northern Chinese) or the indirectivetype (predominantly Southern Chinese), motivated by the systerm-external factor (Altaization of Northern Chinese in the former case) and the systerm-internal factor (loss of the verb ‘to give’ in the latter case) respectively
This article analyzes the permeation from the dominant dialect, Mandarin, to the Shanghai urban dialect, based on the change of xiyin syllables having the Cong initial. Combining random sampling and anonymous observation methods we investigated variations in consecutive age groups of speakers. Statistical analyses reveal that the Shanghai urban dialect is moving toward Mandarin. Under the pressure of the dominant dialect the change is in progress at the population, pragmatic, and lexical levels. These changes are explained within the framework of current theories of language change.
This paper centers on tonal representation of Chinese Wenzhou dialect. Tonal behaviors in Wenzhou indicate that tone is on an independent tier to the segment. Also, because of the complex of register and contour, Chinese tones have been represented with a structure of two dimensions, i.e. register and contour. However, these representations present an insolvable dilemma when analyzing the tonal behavior of Wenzhou dialect. Noticing that tone sandhi in Wenzhou is totally blind to register, we will propose that register is not an underlying feature for Wenzhou tone. We will further suggest that it is the initial consonant that carries the feature of register. This paper will conclude that the tonal representation of Wenzhou dialect has only one level, the tonal contour is formed by concatenation of level tones, and initial consonants carry the burden of meaning distinction that “tonal register” is supposed to carry.
Compared with prototypical universal quantifiers in other languages of the world, dou in Mandarin Chinese presents more complicated semantic behaviors. One of the most disputed issues is what are the relations between dou expressing “universal quantification” (uq) and dou expressing “scalar trigger” (sca). First-hand data that comes from 40 languages demonstrates that Mandarin Chinese is the only language that employs the same form for “universal quantification” and “scalar trigger”. The empirical evidence strongly suggests that uqdou and scadou are different, and the two functions uq and sca lack universal conceptual correlations. The special polysemous behavior of Mandarin dou, is proved to come from two language-specific reanalysis processes in dou’s diachronic development which also supports the two-dou claim. The study thus instantiates how a cross-linguistic perspective provides insights to explain long-standing language-particular issues. Besides, it is also argued that the cross-linguistic approach is promising in predicting if a future research is on a right track as it can steer us through overgeneralization and undergeneralization.