Grammaticalization of ‘give’ in Hui varieties of Chinese: A Typological and Areal Perspective. (accepted)

Wen Melody Lu, Szeto Pui Yiu

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The multi-functions of the morpheme ‘give’ have been studied extensively in the world’s languages. With reference to Sinitic languages, literature on the grammaticaliation of ‘give’ usually takes the form of the grammaticalization pathways of a particular Chinese language (Chen 2009, Chin 2011, among others), or the GIVE type of passive marker as a parameter for the North-South Divide among Sinitic languages (Hashimoto 1976, Norman 1988, Chappell 2015, Szeto 2019). As an addition to the above research, this study will provide a typological analysis of the multi-functions of the ‘GIVE’ morpheme in a lesser-known variety of Sinitic languages - the Hui group of Chinese, including 18 datapoints comprising five subgroups of Hui varieties. Making use of both primary and secondary data including reference grammars and dictionaries, a myriad of functions of the ‘give’ morpheme are observed in Hui Chinese varieties: (i) the lexical verb ‘give’; (ii) recipient marker ‘to’, (iii) beneficiary marker ‘for’; (iv) permissive marker; (v) passive marker, (vi) disposal pretransitive marker, (vii) goal marker; (viii) locative marker.
Among these eight functions, two functions in particular, namely GIVE as the passive marker and GIVE as the disposal pretransitive marker in Hui varieties showcases areal distribution. For passive markers, 15 out of 18 datapoints of Hui languages make use of a passive marker grammaticalized from the Give verb, a feature commonly shared by Southern Sinitic languages and Mainland Southeast Asian languages (Hashimoto 1976, Hashimoto 1986, Chappell 2007, Szeto 2019). Among the three exceptions, two varieties employ the SUFFER verbs, the remaining one uses the CAUSATIVE verb typically affiliated with Northern Mandarins. For disposal pretransitive marker, Hui languages in this study demonstrate a three-way split. 7 out of 18 Hui languages make use of a marker grammaticalized from GIVE verbs, 5 with HELP verbs and 1 with both GIVE and HELP verbs. The remaining 5 Hui languages employ a disposal marker grammaticalized from HOLD verbs, a phenomenon commonly observed Northern Sinitic languages. The hybridization of such distribution unravels the ‘transitional’ feature of Hui Chinese, with the passive marker and disposal transitive marker as plausible parameters for linguistic areas in China.
It is hoped that combined analysis of the multi-functions of GIVE in Hui varieties of Chinese will help shed light on the areal typology of grammaticalization, as well as categorization of ‘linguistic areas’ in China.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
EventThe 35th Paris Meeting on East Asian Linguistics - the Centre de Recherches Linguistiques sur l’Asie Orientale, Paris, France
Duration: 7 Jul 20229 Jul 2022
Conference number: 35


ConferenceThe 35th Paris Meeting on East Asian Linguistics
Abbreviated titleJLAO
Internet address


  • grammaticalization
  • areal typology
  • Transitional Sinitic languages
  • Hui Chinese


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