Split Intransitivity in Cantonese

Sou, Jennifer
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University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics
This paper investigates the phenomenon of split intransitivity in Cantonese utilizing two approaches to map intransitive verbs into verb groupings: the Unaccusativity Hypothesis (UH) based on a syntactic distinction, and the Auxiliary Selection Hierarchy (ASH) based on a semantic representation. The results of this study are sufficient to demonstrate an unaccusative/unergative distinction in Cantonese, with each approach partially accounting for the variation in intransitive verbs. But because of the disparity evident within verb classes, it suggests neither hypothesis clearly predicts the split of unaccusative and unergative verbs. The major finding of this research is that some individual verbs defy groupings according to the two diagnostics. Observations of variation within verb classes at the lexical level may suggest a need in the direction toward a morphosyntax perspective when discussing split intransitivity in Cantonese.
lingustics, Cantonese dialects, Split Intransitivity, Unaccusativity Hypothesis
Sou, Jennifer. 2021. Split Intransitivity in Cantonese. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Working Papers in Linguistics 52(1).
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