Volume 44, Issue 4
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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The diachronic development of morphemes meaning ‘wait’ has not been well documented. This paper describes multiple functions of the ‘wait’ verb in Hong Kong Cantonese: (a) a verb meaning ‘be in need of’, (b) a permissive verb meaning ‘let’, (c) a causative verb meaning ‘cause’, (d) a temporal marker meaning ‘at, when’, (e) a particle for giving notice of a coming event, and (f) a subordinating conjunction signifying someone’s surprise. Four development paths are proposed to account for the multifunctionality: ‘wait’ > (a); ‘wait’ > (d); ‘wait’ > (b) > (e); and ‘wait’ > (c) > (f). This case draws attention to the potential of ‘wait’ morphemes to be employed to express various other abstract concepts and, furthermore, highlights the role of indirect sources in the theory of grammaticalization.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Cantonese; diachrony; grammaticalization; wait
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