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Transitivity in Cantonese

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Item Summary

Title: Transitivity in Cantonese
Authors: Tsang, Chi Chung Aaron
Advisor: O'Grady, William
Issue Date: Aug 2003
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: This dissertation studies the notion of transitivity in Cantonese. Conventionally, transitivity is defined in terms of subject and object. If a sentence has both subject and object, it is transitive. If a sentence only has a subject, then the sentence is intransitive. This way of defining transitivity may seem useful in many languages. However, it does not work very well in Chinese languages. Chinese languages are well known for lacking case marking and agreement. Therefore, subjects and objects are defined solely on the basis of word order. Being SVO in nature, when there is an NP following the main verb, the NP can be considered to be the object, and the sentence is transitive. Yet this way of defining transitivity encounters problems, especially when some verbs, such as heui 'to go' or fan 'to sleep' in Cantonese, which do not require any object semantically, are followed by an object-like NP. The analyses given for these verbs vary from linguist to linguist. Some linguists argue that they are transitive, whereas others suggest the opposite. This dissertation argues that the best way to determine transitivity is by applying syntactic tests to problematic constructions. Using Cantonese as the primary data, this dissertation reexamines eight problematic constructions that can be argued as being either transitive or intransitive. Various syntactic tests will be employed, and conclusions are drawn based on the results of these tests.
Description: xiii, 249 leaves
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Linguistics

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