Linguistic Analysis of Meaning and Syntactic Change in the Grammaticalization of Chinese Prepositions: Charting the Constraints of Locality on Language Development Through Three Millennia of Chinese Documents

Author: Zhu, Yongping
The Chinese prepositions which have developed from verbs possess both verbal and prepositional functions. This amphibious nature of Chinese preposition is the result of the evolution of the Chinese language, and preserves the rich information of language change. This unique feature of Chinese prepositions has attracted many linguists to describe and explain the changes of Chinese prepositions.

This book is a description and explanation of the development of Chinese prepositions from both diachronic and synchronic perspectives.


"In this work, the author provides a thorough analysis of the development of the lexical item ji in Chinese. This includes not only its orthography and lexical meanings, but also the traces of development from being a verb to a co-verb and a conjunction. Its use in both old Chinese and mdoern Chinese is clearly described, establish[ing] general principles in syntax, semantics, as well as pragmatics/cognition to account for observed changes." -- Prof. Hongyin Tao, UCLA

"... a great description of the development of Chinese prepositions and conjunctions, but also a great explanation for the reasons behind the change." -- Prof. Licheng Gu, Northwestern University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ken-ichi Takashima, Ph.D


Some Preliminaries

Chapter 1: Introduction

Studies on Grammaticalization: A Brief Review
Hypothesis of Constraint for Categorical Reanalysis
The Development of Chinese Prepositions in SVCs

Chapter 2: Language Change from Cognitive and Pragmatic Perspectives

Language Processing and Acquisition
Pragmatic Inferences in Communication
Subjectification in the Development of Chinese Prepositions in SVCs

Chapter 3: Meaning Change

The Original Meaning of JI
The Syntactic Relation of JI to Nouns in the OBI
JI with other Verbs and Locative Prepositions in the OBI
The Generalization of the Meaning of JI from Space to Time in the OBI
The Semantic Change of JI in the Pre-Qin Period

Chapter 4: Reanalysis and Linguistic Features of Surrounding Items of Grammatical Words (I)

JI Changes to a Preposition Similar to 'to' in the Western Zhou Period
JI's Change from a Preposition to a Conjunction
Other Case Studies of Chinese Function Words on the Relationships between Verbs and their following Words
The Change of YU
The Original Meaning of YU
YU used with other Motion Verbs in the OBI
A Possible Pathway of the Development of YU
The Process of Grammaticalization of YU

Chapter 5: Reanalysis and Linguistic Features of Surrounding Items of Grammatical Words (II)

JI's Change from Comitative Preposition 'with' and to a Conjunction
The Grammaticalization of BEI and BA
The Grammaticalization of BEI
The Grammaticalization of BA
JI's Change into a Clause Connective

Chapter 6: A Motivation for the Replacement of Chinese Function Words

a Hypothesis of the Motivation for Replacement
The Specialization of JI
The Disappearance of of JI as a Preposition '(arriving) at/to'
The Repartitioning of JI and YUU
the Generalization and Disappearance of JI as a Conjunction
Generalization of the Function of JI as a Conjunction
Generalization of JI's Functions with Different Syntactic Units

Chapter 7: The Motivation of Language Change: A Conclusion

Generalization of Meaning
Syntactic Change
Layering and Specialization
The Mechanisms, Processes and Motivations behind the Grammaticalizaion of JI