Origins of a Preposition: Chinese Pidgin English long and its Implications for Pidgin Grammar

In: Journal of Language Contact
Author: Michelle Li
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This paper examines the origins and grammatical properties of a preposition in Chinese Pidgin English – long – which has not received much discussion. The significance of long is that it is highly multifunctional and semantically versatile. Long is used to indicate a range of semantic roles: comitative, benefactive, malefactive and source. A second function of long is to mark coordination. It will be shown that a substantial part of the syntax and semantics of long can be attributed to substrate transfer of a corresponding Cantonese morpheme tung4 'with'. The creation of long does not conform to the traditional thesis of simply taking the phonetic form from the lexifier language and deriving the grammar from the substrate language. It will be argued that the emergence of long is a case of multiple etymologies which involves the recombination of phonological, syntactic and semantic features from both English and Cantonese. Findings from new CPE sources also suggest a need for re-examining the historical connections between CPE and other Pidgin English varieties of the Pacific region.

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