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Epistemic, evidential and attitudinal markers in clause-medial position in Cantonese

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Abstract

This paper examines two types of clause-medial stance markers in Cantonese.&#42; We trace the evolution of these stance markers from their lexical origins as complement-taking psych verbs and directional verbs. Similar to English <i>I think</i> parentheticals, the evolution of the Cantonese psych verbs (e.g. <i>gok3dak1 </i>&#8216;feel/think&#8217;; <i>paa3 </i>&#8216;fear&#8217;; <i>m4zi1</i> &#8216;don&#8217;t know&#8217;) involves &#8216;insubordination&#8217; of the embedded complement clause. However, in Cantonese, subject ellipsis and topic constructions play an important role in the reanalysis of psych verbs into epistemic and negative attitudinal markers in clause-medial position.1 Directional verbs in Cantonese (e.g. <i>faan1 </i>&#8216;return&#8217; and <i>maai4 </i>&#8216;approach&#8217;), on the other hand, develop into attitudinal particles via verbal complementation and a disjunctive strategy. Central to the development of both types of stance markers is the first person subject <i>ngo5</i>, whether explicitly or implicitly expressed, which makes the process of subjectification possible.

References

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