The categorization of causatives in modern Chinese




causality, causative construction, corpus linguistics, Sketch Engine, Chinese Web 2017 (zhTenTen17) Simplified Corpus, modern Chinese


The article presents a model for applying methods of corpus linguistics to the categorization of causatives that convey semantics of causality in contemporary Chinese. The author employs the core functions of the corpus manager Sketch Engine, including thesaurus, concordance and word list in order to select contextual synonyms, search to find illustrative material and generate lexical units with preset parameters accordingly. Specifically, online corpus of Chinese Web 2017 (zhTenTen17) Simplified, which contains approximately 16.6 billion tokens, was used to conduct the study.
Notably, in modern Chinese, the category of causality is primarily realized through causative constructions, which/whose type is determined by the causative predicate. The present paper studies both lexical and grammatical causatives. The results illustrate that lexical causatives include mono- and
multi-component types, while grammatical causatives are divided into those formed by two full verbs; those formed by a full verb and a resultative component; and those formed by a combination of light and non-causative verbs. Besides, grammatical causative constructions are divided into two main subtypes: morphological and analytical. The morphological one conveys semantics of causality either through causative affixes or phonological changes, while the analytical one being the most prevalent in modern Chinese are further classified into three models, namely: those formed with causative markers; those formed with the causative preposition 把; and those formed with the word 得. Future research may focus on the pragmatics of the choice in different types of causative constructions, with a regard to the conceptual and linguistic worldview of the Chinese people.


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