Polyfunctionality of ‘Give’ in Hui Varieties of Chinese: a Typological and Areal Perspective

Wen Melody Lu, Pui Yiu Szeto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The morpheme ‘give’ is among the most well-studied lexical items in the realm of grammatical-ization. This study sets out to provide a typological and areal analysis of the distinct forms and multiple functions of ‘give’ in 27 varieties of Hui Chinese, a lesser-known group of Sinitic lan-guages. Making use of both primary and secondary data, we have identified ten different func-tions of GIVE, namely (i) lexical verb ‘give’, (ii) recipient marker ‘to’, (iii) benefactive marker ‘for’, (iv) purpose marker, (v) permissive marker, (vi) passive marker, (vii) pretransitive dispos-al marker, (viii) allative marker, (ix) locative marker ‘at/in’, and (x) temporal marker ‘till’. The Hui varieties covered in this study generally showcase the syncretism of a minimum of five of the functions above simultaneously. Semantic extension, polygrammaticalization and coopta-tion are shown to be the major mechanisms behind the polyfunctionality or polysemy sharing of the morpheme ‘give’. Our study contributes to the understanding of the role that grammati-calization, especially contact-induced grammaticalization, plays in forming linguistic areas. In addition, it casts doubt on the basicness of ‘give’ in assessing genetic relatedness of languages in the world.
Original languageEnglish
VolumeSpecial Issue: Typology of Chinese Languages
Issue number 8(3), 217
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2023


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