Languages, Vol. 8, Pages 132: A Diachronic Investigation on the Lexical Formation and Evolution of the Chinese Adverb “Yijing (已经)”

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Languages, Vol. 8, Pages 132: A Diachronic Investigation on the Lexical Formation and Evolution of the Chinese Adverb “Yijing (已经)”

Languages doi: 10.3390/languages8020132

Authors:
Jiangtao Shen
Yu Liu

This paper describes the lexicalization processes of the expositive adverb yijing in Chinese, taking the view that the lexicalization of yijing has been achieved by both syntactic and semantic–pragmatic contexts. There are two key processes: the grammaticalization of jing is the key factor for reanalysis of the structure yijing. Originally, jing could only be combined with NP. In the structure “yi + jing + NP experiences”, jing acquired the context in which it was possible to combine with VP. When the VP was an active situation, jing was grammaticalized into a manner adverb, while when VP was a semelfactive situation, jing, the same with yi, became a state adverb for the past tense and perfect aspect. The lexicalization of yijing contains two processes, namely reanalysis and cohesion. In the structure “yi[relative time] + jing +VP”, when there were complex elements, it was reanalyzed as “[yi + jing] + VP”, where yijing functioned as a coordinate structure. If the structure “[yi + jing] + VP” was in a sufficient conditional clause and the VP was an accomplishment situation, “yi + jing” in this context acquired the pragmatic function to confirm that an event has happened, but it was still expressing the tense–aspect meanings of the sentence. In the 7th century, when VP was an achievement situation and had a perfective verb in it, yijing no longer bore the tense–aspect function and was specialized into a confirmative expositive adverb for pragmatic function, and the lexicalization processes finished.

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