Article published in:Formal Evidence in Grammaticalization Research
Edited by An Van linden, Jean-Christophe Verstraete and Kristin Davidse
[Typological Studies in Language 94] 2010
► pp. 275–288
Emergence of the indefinite article
Discourse evidence for the grammaticalization of yige in spoken Mandarin
This study explores the grammaticalization of a frequently used numeral classifier yige into a marker of indefiniteness in spoken Taiwan Mandarin. Naturally-occurring data show that yige is frequently used to introduce a newly-mentioned but unfamiliar referent into the discourse and its distribution goes beyond the typical boundary of a numeral classifier. Yige may occur with NPs that do not require number or class marking, such as proper names, abstract, non-referring, and even plural nouns. It is suggested that yige is functionally overgeneralized and realigned with a new grammatical status in marking indefinite referentiality. Just like Huang (1999) argues that the distal demonstrative nage ‘that’ is becoming a definite article, this paper argues that the indefinite article yige is also emerging in Mandarin.Emergence of the indefinite article: Discourse evidence for the grammaticalization of yige in spoken Mandarin.
Published online: 25 November 2010
Cited by 3 other publications
Crosthwaite, Peter Robert
Frajzyngier, Zygmunt, Meichun Liu & Yingying Ye
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