The Category of Postverbal Particles in Naxi and Grammaticalization

The Category of Postverbal Particles in Naxi and Grammaticalization

Melody Ya-Yin Chang

Yuxi Normal University

Naxi is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the southwest of China.

The syntactic categories of postverbal particles in Naxi are dual: both functional and lexical at the same time. On the one hand, they functions like inflectional categories since inflectional components such as aspect and mood are expressed in the analytic categories of postverbal particles:

(1)       a.         xɯ³³   ɡɯ³³   mbɯ³³                                                                       b.         xɯ³¹   ɡɯ³³   tʰv³³

rain                  drop    prospective                                                    rain                  drop            perfective

“It is going to rain.”                                                                                      “It has rained.”

c.         xɯ³¹   ɡɯ³³   ne³¹                                                                            d.         xɯ³¹   ɡɯ³³            tʂʰɿ³¹                                                                   rain                  drop    progressive                                                     rain                  drop    inchoative

“It is raining.”                                                                                               “It is starting raining.”

On the other hand, the postverbal particles in Naxi also exhibit strong verbal characters. In particular, they may license a locative subject. As shown in (2), when the postverbal particle ne³³ occurs, a locative NP can be licensed in subject position even if it is not part of the argument structure of the sentence:

(2)       a.         dʑy³¹             ɡv³³                 xɯ³¹   ɡɯ³³   ne³³

mountain         on                    rain                  fall                  progressive

“It is raining on the mountain.” (with strong visual effects)

b. *      dʑy³¹             ɡv³³                 xɯ³¹   ɡɯ³³

mountain         on                    rain                  fall

It is worthy to note that the postverbal particles in Naxi have their origins in directional verbs, and nowadays their verbal uses are still retained:

(3)       a.         u³³jə³³              ɡu³¹mbe³³        mbɯ³³                                    ze³¹

WuYong          LiJiang                        go.irrealis                    ze

WuYong will go to LiJiang.

b.         u³³jə³³              ɡu³¹mbe³³        tʰv³³                          ze³¹

WuYong          LiJiang                        reach.realis                  ze

WuYong have reached LiJiang.

c.         u³³jə³³              ɡu³¹be³³                       tʂʰɿ³¹                               ze³¹

WuYong          LiJiang                        come.realis                  ze

WuYong came to LiJiang.

To properly analyze the postverbal particles in Naxi, we thus suggest that a grammaticalization path should be involved to relate the dual categories of Naxi postverbal particles. In this approach, the verbal category of the postverbal particle is the genesis, later an auxiliary (or light verb) status is developed, and finally an inflectional status arises.

Selected References:

Matisoff, J. A. (1991) “Areal and Universal Dimensions of Grammaticalization in Lahu,” in E.C. Traugott & B. Heine, eds., Approaches to Grammaticalization, vol. II: Focus on Types of Grammatical Markers, pp. 383-453. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamin’s Publishing Co.

梅广 (1996)《独龙语的句尾词研究》,载《语文研究》30期,页151-175.

木仕华 (2006)《纳西语句尾词研究》,汉藏语言研究,民族出版社,页168-179.

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