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6. Zhuang: A Tai language with some Sinitic characteristics. Postverbal 'can' in Zhuang, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Lao

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Abstract

This paper deals with an areal feature shared by languages spoken in Indo-China and Southern China, namely, the presence of a modal element in a for these languages a-typical post-verbal position. In this paper we investigate the properties of this element in Cantonese, Lao, Vietnamese and Zhuang. One of the questions we focus on is the fact that the element in question can be translated with ‘can’, but the languages differ in that only in a subset of them, it can mean ‘can-ability’. It turns out that the interpretational properties of the element is tightly interrelated with both syntactic and interpretational properties of the resultative construction.

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