The special use of the 3rd person singular pronoun in Cantonese
- Joanna Sio (Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic)
- Wednesday 10 April 2019
- Chinese Linguistics in Leiden (CHILL)
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 1
2311 BZ Leiden
When referring to inanimate objects, the Mandarin 3rd person singular pronoun exhibits some curious usages, both referentially and non-referentially. In the referential usage, Xu (1999) observes that the 3rd person singular pronoun in the object position can refer to a singular or plural topic or a sub-topic, but this usage is restricted to predicates involving the features of disposal, telicity, irrealis and agentivity. Xu (1999) calls it the D-pronoun, where D stands for ‘disposed of’. In the non-referential usage, the 3rd singular pronoun is emphatic in nature (Chan 1985), or as Chao (1963) calls it, ‘a lively element’. Lin and Zhang (2006) treat it as an indefinite determiner. In this talk, we will discuss similar cases in Cantonese. In Cantonese, the 3rd person singular pronoun is used in cases attested in Mandarin and more, including cases where the pronoun appears in the object position of an intransitive verb (e.g. die, faint, sleep) and cases where both the thematic object and the pronoun appear in the post-verbal position. Similar to Xu’s observations, these cases in Cantonese also require the features of disposal, telicity, irrealis and agentivity.