Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1877-7031
  • E-ISSN: 1877-8798
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This paper explores the various functions of in Mandarin Chinese as it changes from a verb to a phase marker. As a phase marker, provides a natural endpoint to a co-occurring event and indicates completion, which is a distinct function from the perfect marker . In this shift, the meaning of also expands, including ‘falling down’, ‘throwing down’, ‘disappearing’, ‘removal’, ‘completion’ and ‘change of state’. The multifunctionality of is the result of grammaticalization along with semantic change and extension. Cognitive mechanisms such as metonymic and metaphoric extensions, pragmatic inferencing, analogy on Verb-Complement structures, and semantic generalization all contribute to the grammaticalization of , with further influence from contact with southern Chinese dialects. This paper further argues that the grammaticalization and semantic extension of is in accordance with the development of aspectual markers cross-linguistically, reflecting the commonality in human cognition.


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