Author: Mu, Tong
Title: A study of laizhe in Mandarin Chinese
Degree: DALS
Year: 2022
Subject: Mandarin dialects -- Semantics
Chinese language -- Particles
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: ii, v, 300 pages
Language: English
Abstract: Previous studies on the syntax and semantics of sentence final particles (henceforth SFPs) in Mandarin Chinese has mostly been devoted to the study of sentence-final le, but much less has been devoted to the function of another SFP, such as laizhe. The syntactic roles and semantic functions of laizhe have long been controversial. Moreover, laizhe seems to have a dichotomy of use in non-interrogative sentences (laizhe 1) and wh-questions (laizhe 2) which is worthy to be further explored. Therefore, this study explores the characteristics of laizhe from perspectives of its history, semantics, and syntax to fulfill these research gaps.
From a diachronic perspective, laizhe is a bisyllabic SFP which is different from other SFPs in Mandarin. This study shows that the bisyllabic characteristics of laizhe is related to its special historical changes. Laizhe was derived from two components, lai and zhe, in Middle Chinese and Early Mandarin. Lai was commonly used as a past experiential marker in the sentence-final position in late Middle Chinese, as well as in Early Mandarin. However, zhe could only function as a sentence-final perfect marker from Early Mandarin onward. From the Qing Dynasty onwards, lai and zhe may have become grammaticalized and lexicalized as the single word laizhe, and this kind of laizhe is very similar to its cognate in Modern Mandarin.
From a semantic perspective, the present study argues that simply examining verbal semantics is insufficient to identifying the use and functions of laizhe 1, and instead investigates them from the perspective of MARVS-theory event types. This new approach establishes that predicates compatible with laizhe 1 often express an event from a prior time point that, while recent, is still different from the time of the conversation. Thus, two fundamental attributes are needed to account for the distribution of laizhe 1: that is, the timing of the expression of 1) temporal gaps, and/or 2) different stage-level properties associated with the subject of a sentence. And after comparing the SFP laizhe 1 and the experiential aspect marker guo and sentence-final le, the present study finds that laizhe 1 has more semantic constrains than guo and sentence-final le from the perspective MARVS-theory evet types because laizhe 1 has to follow two fundamental attributes. However, laizhe 2 does not need to contain the two fundamental attributes because it indicates different semantics from laizhe 1 and refers to a former state of knowledge and special pragmatic effects related to Chinese face culture.
From a syntactic perspective, the present study has re-examined the syntactic status of laizhe with evidence based on how laizhe interacts with some important syntactic formations and the capabilities between laizhe and other SFPs. And the current study proposes that laizhe 1 is allocated in Class 1 SFP to form a Low CP in the clausal periphery, but laizhe 2 can be categorized as the Force head which is higher than low SFPs and lower than attitude SFPs.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
6214.pdfFor All Users (off-campus access for PolyU Staff & Students only)3.22 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Copyright Undertaking

As a bona fide Library user, I declare that:

  1. I will abide by the rules and legal ordinances governing copyright regarding the use of the Database.
  2. I will use the Database for the purpose of my research or private study only and not for circulation or further reproduction or any other purpose.
  3. I agree to indemnify and hold the University harmless from and against any loss, damage, cost, liability or expenses arising from copyright infringement or unauthorized usage.

By downloading any item(s) listed above, you acknowledge that you have read and understood the copyright undertaking as stated above, and agree to be bound by all of its terms.

Show full item record

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: