Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2665-9336
  • E-ISSN: 2665-9344
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We describe the various uses of the Vietnamese morpheme which appears in excessive constructions. Unlike most other degree morphemes in Vietnamese, can precede or follow its gradable predicate, and we argue that these two different uses convey excess in very different ways: pre-predicate encodes purpose-oriented excessive truth conditions, whereas post-predicate is a comparative which projects a not-at-issue malefactive inference. We propose that the two constructions trace back to pre- and post-predicate in Middle Chinese, motivated by comparisons with cognate constructions in contemporary Chinese languages. We also describe two other uses of , as an intensifier with speaker commitment and as an exclamative marker, and explain how they developed from the excessives. This study thus offers an explanatory account of the various uses of this multifunctional expression and the relationships between them, grounded in the history of the language and in principles of semantic change.


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