Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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Modern Chinese confirmative (as in (沒錯,我要毒死你) ‘that’s right. I really wanted to poison you to death’) is not an auxiliary but an adverb. It derives from the adjective ‘true, real’ in Old Chinese ( (偃之言也) ‘what Yan said was true’). The grammaticalization pathway of the Modern Chinese confirmative is different from that of the copula ( (老張貨車司機) ‘Laozhang is a truck driver’) or the auxiliary ( (老張開貨車,我開客車) ‘Laozhang drives a truck and I drive a coach car’). Modern Chinese confirmative , copula , and auxiliary have the same morphological form because they all appear to derive from the adjective or demonstrative ( (可忍,孰不可忍) ‘if this could be endured, is there anything else that could not be endured’) in Old Chinese. Such a pattern of morphological sameness seems to be cross-linguistically rare, if not unique.


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