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Journal Article

The polysemous lia̍h 力 in Early Modern Southern Min and its contemporary fate


Lai,  Yunfan
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Lai, Y. (2019). The polysemous lia̍h 力 in Early Modern Southern Min and its contemporary fate. Journal of Chinese Linguistics, 47(1), 193-226. doi:10.1353/jcl.2019.0007.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-7C1D-F
Based on Early Modern Southern Min texts from Ming and Qing dynasties, this paper studies the different functions of lia̍h 力 in Southern Min and the grammaticalisation pathways that led to the polysemantism. The morpheme lia̍h could appear as a content verb meaning 'to catch' or a polyfunctional case marker in Early Modern Southern Min; while in Contemporary Southern Min, its verb use has become overwhelming, and its grammatical uses are mostly fossilised. This paper hypothesises the grammaticalisation pathways of lia̍h by examining ambiguous constructions, and proposes that the fossilisation of the grammatical functions started with South-Western varieties of Southern Min, in which lia̍h was transcribed with the character 掠. The history of this word is worthy of the attention of typological studies.