Typological shift in lexicalizing motion events has hitherto been observed cross-linguistically. While over time, Chinese has shown a shift from a dominantly verb-framed language in Old Chinese to a strongly satellite-framed language in Modern Standard Mandarin, this study presents the Chinese dialect Wenzhou, which has taken a step further than Standard Mandarin and other Chinese dialects in becoming a thoroughly satellite-framed language. On the one hand, Wenzhou strongly disfavors the verb-framed pattern. Wenzhou not only has no prototypical path verbs, but also its path satellites are highly deverbalized. On the other hand, Wenzhou strongly prefers the satellite-framed pattern, to the extent that it very frequently adopts a neutral motion verb to head motion expressions so that path can be expressed via satellites and the satellite-framed pattern can be syntactically maintained. The findings of this study are of interest to intra-linguistic, diachronic and cross-linguistic studies of the variation in encoding motion events.
A language sensitive to a thing-place distinction (e.g., cup vs. Paris) may use thing-to-place conversion devices to allow a thing to be conceptualized as a place. Mandarin Chinese behaves inconsistently in the use of the conversion device – the addition of a localizer (e.g., li ‘inside’) to a thing noun – in that the device is not required in every situation where a thing is understood as a place, cf. dao chezi-*(li) arrive car-inside and jin chezi-(li) enter car-inside. Drawing evidence from Chinese directed motion contractions, I argue that such inconsistency is closely related to the other function of localizers: specifying the search domain of a ground that a figure is located with respect to. Specifically, Chinese adheres to a Localizer Condition according to which a localizer is not required if the information conveyed in the path verb and the (thing) ground is sufficiently specific to identify the figure's final location with respect to the (thing) ground. I show that the effects of the condition are observed in other languages such as Likpe and French, despite differences in encoding spatial relations.
This article presents a classification and clustering based study to account for the differences among five Chinese light verbs (congshi, gao, jiayi, jinxing, and zuo) as well as their variations in Mainland China Mandarin (ML) and Taiwan Mandarin (TW). Based on 13 linguistic features, both competition and co-development of these light verbs are studied in terms of their distinct and shared collocates. The proposed method discovers significant new grammatical differences in addition to confirming previously reported ones. Most significant discoveries include selectional restrictions differentiating deverbal nominals and event nouns, and degrees of transitivity of VO compounds. We also find that most variations between Mainland China Mandarin and Taiwan Mandarin are in fact differences in tendencies or preferences in contexts of usage of shared grammatical rules.