Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1877-7031
  • E-ISSN: 1877-8798
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper proposes a structural borrowing account for a lexicogrammatical phenomenon whereby, in on ongoing Cantonese discourse, the use of a single-word English preposition triggers and activates an English construction, specifically an NP COP P NP sequence, and brings it into that discourse. The borrowed structure eventually converges with Cantonese, with the English preposition reanalyzed as a verb or a coverb. It is further suggested that these processes of structural borrowing and convergence are semantically motivated. Drawing on Cognitive Grammar, the borrowed structure profiles a location as a relationship (whereas in Cantonese it is profiled as a thing by a postposition), and the (i.e., ) is profiled as a property of the subject or trajector (whereas in Cantonese a coverb phrase is always associated with a process). The converged constructions – in which an English preposition is reanalyzed as a verb or coverb – profile more dynamic and specific processes.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ansaldo, Umberto
    2009 The Asian typology of English: Theoretical and methodological considerations. English World-Wide30(2), 133–148. 10.1075/eww.30.2.02ans
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.30.2.02ans [Google Scholar]
  2. Baker, Mark C.
    2003Lexical categories. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511615047
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615047 [Google Scholar]
  3. Bauer, Robert S.
    2006 The stratification of English loanwords in Cantonese. Journal of Chinese Linguistics34(2), 172–191.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bullock, Barbara E. & Almeida Jacqueline Toribio
    2004 Introduction: Convergence as an emergent property in bilingual speech. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition7(2): 91–93. 10.1017/S1366728904001506
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728904001506 [Google Scholar]
  5. Chan, Brian Hok-Shing
    1992Code-mixing in Hong Kong Cantonese-English Bilinguals: Constraints and processes. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong MA dissertation.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. 1998 How does Cantonese-English code-mixing work?In Martha C. Pennington (ed.), Language in Hong Kong at century’s end, 191–216. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. 2005Categorial equivalence, selection and code-switching. Paper presented at the5th International Symposium of Bilingualism at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, 20–23, March.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. 2009 Code-switching with typologically distinct languages. In Barbara E. Bullock & Almeida Jacqueline Toribio (eds.), The Cambridge handbook of linguistic code-switching, 182–198. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511576331.012
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511576331.012 [Google Scholar]
  9. 2015a A diachronic-functional approach to explaining grammatical patterns in code-switching: Postmodification in Cantonese-English noun phrases. International Journal of Bilingualism19(1): 17–39. 10.1177/1367006913477921
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006913477921 [Google Scholar]
  10. 2015b Portmanteau constructions, phrase structure, and linearization. Frontiers in Psychology6:1851. doi:  10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01851.
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01851 [Google Scholar]
  11. Chan, Mimi & Helen Kwok
    1982A study of lexical borrowing from English in Hong Kong Cantonese. Hong Kong: Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Chen, Katherine H-Y.
    2008Bilinguals in style: Linguistic practices and ideologies of Cantonese-English codemixers in Hong Kong. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan PhD dissertation.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Cheung, Hung-Nin
    2007A grammar of Cantonese as spoken in Hong Kong. Revised edition. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. [In Chinese]
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Cheung, Lawrence Yam-Leung
    2009 Dislocation focus construction in Chinese. Journal of East Asian Linguistics18, 197–232. 10.1007/s10831‑009‑9046‑z
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10831-009-9046-z [Google Scholar]
  15. Ching, Queenie. S-Y.
    2009Code-switching of Cantonese-English in Hong Kong Magazine Feature Articles. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong MA Research Paper.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Chomsky, Noam
    1986aBarriers. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. 1986bKnowledge in language: Its nature, origin, and use. New York: Praeger.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. 1995The minimalist program. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Croft, William
    2001Radical construction grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299554.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299554.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  20. Djamouri, Redouane , Waltraud Paul & John Whitman
    2013 Postpositions vs prepositions in Mandarin Chinese: The articulation of disharmony. In Theresa Biberauer & Michelle Sheehan (eds.), Theoretical approaches to disharmonic word order, 74–105. New York: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684359.003.0003
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684359.003.0003 [Google Scholar]
  21. Francis, Elaine & Stephen Matthews
    2005 A multi-dimensional approach to the category “verb” in Cantonese. Journal of Linguistics41, 269–305. 10.1017/S0022226705003270
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022226705003270 [Google Scholar]
  22. 2006 Categoriality and object extraction in Cantonese serial verb constructions. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory24, 751–801. 10.1007/s11049‑006‑0005‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-006-0005-3 [Google Scholar]
  23. Francis, Elaine & Etsuyo Yuasa
    2008 A multi-modular approach to gradual change in grammaticalization. Journal of Linguistics44, 45–86. 10.1017/S0022226707004951
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022226707004951 [Google Scholar]
  24. Gibbons, John
    1979 U-gay-wa: A linguistic study of the campus language of students at the University of Hong Kong. In Robert Lord (ed.), Hong Kong language papers, 3–43. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. 1987Code-mixing and code-choice: A Hong Kong case study. Multilingual Matters, Clevedon.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Goldberg, Adele E.
    2006Constructions at work: The nature of generalizations in language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Grimshaw, Jane
    1991Extended projections. Manuscript, Brandeis University.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Gumperz, John
    1982Discourse strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511611834
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511611834 [Google Scholar]
  29. Heine, Bernd & Tania Kuteva
    2002World lexicon of grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511613463
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511613463 [Google Scholar]
  30. 2005Language contact and grammatical change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511614132
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511614132 [Google Scholar]
  31. Huang, James C-T. , Audrey Li & Li, Yafei
    2008The syntax of Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Jackendoff, Ray
    1977X-bar syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Lai, Wai-Ying
    1989The occurrence of code-mixing in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong MA dissertation. 10.5353/th_b3194956
    https://doi.org/10.5353/th_b3194956 [Google Scholar]
  34. Lam, Joyce Y-H.
    2005A study of single English words occurring in Hong Kong Cantonese. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong MA dissertation. 10.5353/th_b4500754
    https://doi.org/10.5353/th_b4500754 [Google Scholar]
  35. Lam, Wai
    2013Code switching and code mixing in the broadcasts of Commercial Radio Hong Kong (CRHK). Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong MA dissertation. 10.5353/th_b5091038
    https://doi.org/10.5353/th_b5091038 [Google Scholar]
  36. Langacker, Ronald W.
    2008Cognitive grammar: A basic introduction. Oxford University Press, New York. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331967.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331967.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  37. Leung, Yin-Bing
    1987Constraints on intrasentential code-mixing in Cantonese and English. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong MA dissertation. 10.5353/th_b3194913
    https://doi.org/10.5353/th_b3194913 [Google Scholar]
  38. Leung, Tommi T-C.
    2001An optimality-theoretic approach to Cantonese/ English code-switching. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong MPhil dissertation. 10.5353/th_b3122473
    https://doi.org/10.5353/th_b3122473 [Google Scholar]
  39. Li, Charles & Sandra A. Thompson
    1981Mandarin Chinese: A functional reference grammar. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Li, David C-S.
    2000 Cantonese – English code-switching research in Hong Kong: A Y2K review. World Englishes19, 305–322. 10.1111/1467‑971X.00181
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-971X.00181 [Google Scholar]
  41. Li, Siu-Lun
    1996A sociolinguistic study of code-mixing in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong MPhil dissertation.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Lui, Ngan-Chui
    2000Code-mixing in a Hong Kong secondary school. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong MA dissertation. 10.5353/th_b3194466
    https://doi.org/10.5353/th_b3194466 [Google Scholar]
  43. Luke, Kang-Kwong
    1984 Expedient and orientational language mixing in Hong Kong. York Papers in Linguistics11, 191–201.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. 1998 Why two languages might be better than one. In: Pennington, M. C. (ed.), Language in Hong Kong at century’s end, 145–159. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Luke, Kang-Kwong & Chak-Ming Lau
    2005 On loanword truncation in Cantonese. Journal of East Asian Linguistics17, 347–362. 10.1007/s10831‑008‑9032‑x
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10831-008-9032-x [Google Scholar]
  46. MacSwan, Jeff
    1999A minimalist approach to intrasentential code-switching: Spanish-Nahuatl Bilingualism in Central Mexico. New York: Garland.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Matthews, Stephen & Virginia Yip
    2009 Contact-induced grammaticalization: evidence from bilingual acquisition. Studies in Language33(2), 366–395. 10.1075/sl.33.2.06mat
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sl.33.2.06mat [Google Scholar]
  48. 2011Cantonese: A comprehensive grammar. Second edition. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Muysken, Pieter
    2000Bilingual Speech. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. 2013 Language contact outcomes as the optimalization of strategies. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition16(4), 709–730. 10.1017/S1366728912000727
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728912000727 [Google Scholar]
  51. Myers-Scotton, Carol
    1993Duelling languages: Grammatical structure in codeswitching. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. 2002Contact linguistics. Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299530.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299530.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  53. 2006Multiple voices: An introduction to bilingualism. Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Myers-Scotton, Carol & Janice L. Jake
    2009 A universal model of codeswitching and bilingual language processing and production. In Barbara E. Bullock & Almeida Jacqueline Toribio (eds.), The Cambridge handbook of linguistic code-switching, 336–357. New York: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Pennington, Martha , Brian Hok-Shing Chan & Lawrence Lau
    1996Hong Kong radio: A changing profile. Strategic Grants Research funded by the University Grants Commission, Hong Kong. City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Pustet, Regina
    2003Copulas: Universals in the categorization of the lexicon. New York: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258505.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258505.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  57. Reynolds-Lo, Sabrina, K-C.
    1985Code-switching in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong MA dissertation.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Rickford, John R.
    1998 The creole origins of African American Vernacular English: Evidence from copular absence. In Salikoko S. Mufwene , John R. Rickford , Guy Bailey & John Baugh (eds.), African American English, 154–200. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Teng, Anne Y-Y.
    1993Code-mixing and code-switching in Chinese-English bilinguals. Cambridge: The University of Cambridge MA dissertation.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Thomason, Sarah & Terrence Kaufman
    1988Language contact, creolization, and genetic linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. Wong, Cathy S-P. , Robert S. Bauer & Zoe Lam
    2009 The integration of English loanwords in Hong Kong Cantonese. Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society1, 251–265.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Yip, Virginia & Stephen Matthews
    2000 Syntactic transfer in a Cantonese-English bilingual child. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition3(3), 193–208. 10.1017/S136672890000033X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S136672890000033X [Google Scholar]
  63. Yiu, Emily S-M.
    2005Language mixing and grammatical development in a Cantonese-English balanced bilingual child in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong MPhil dissertation. 10.5353/th_b3621023
    https://doi.org/10.5353/th_b3621023 [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error