Copula functions in a cross-Sinitic perspective

  • 1 School of Humanities, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Rd, Shanghai, China
Dawei JinORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7992-4940

Abstract

This paper investigates the distinct functions associated with the copula morpheme and their distribution across Sinitic languages. Based on fieldwork on five Sinitic languages, an empirical generalization will be presented regarding the scope and variation of copular multifunctionality. Specifically, language-specific variation is witnessed in topic and conditional marking as well as verum marking. Conversely, it is found that Sinitic languages converge on employing the copula in constructions expressing phrasal and clausal level focus. The paper further explores whether these copular constructions should receive a uniform syntax, or should be conceived of as having a set of underlaid heterogeneous structures.

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