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The grammaticalization of 要 Yao and the future cycle from Archaic Chinese to Modern Mandarin*

image of The grammaticalization of 要 Yao and the future cycle from Archaic Chinese to Modern Mandarin*

In this paper, I argue that the grammaticalization of the Chinese word &#35201; <i>y&#257;o/y&#224;o</i> shows an instance of the future cycle. Similar to English <i>will</i>, &#35201; <i>y&#257;o/y&#224;o</i> has developed new functional meanings apart from its earlier semantic meanings of Compulsion and Volition, including deontic and future time uses. I adopt the theory of Late Merge (van Gelderen 2004) as a descriptive account to argue that while full verb &#35201; <i>y&#257;o/y&#224;o</i> is in the VP, the deontic and future time uses are in the Aspect Phrase and Mood Phrase respectively. I present evidence of scope differences in Modern Mandarin to support this thesis, and also briefly suggest that a &#8220;Problems of Projection&#8221; approach (Chomsky 2013, 2014) to grammaticalization may motivate the Late Merge phenomenon. Lastly, I show that although the older uses of &#35201; <i>y&#257;o/y&#224;o</i> still exist in Modern Mandarin, they are increasingly likely to be replaced by renewed forms, as predicted in the cycle framework.

  • Affiliations: 1: Arizona State University

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