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Title: Syntactic change in Xining Mandarin
Author: Bell, Daniel Melvin
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 7077
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2017
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This dissertation discusses the Xining Mandarin dialect (spoken in Qinghai province, northwest China), a variety in which head-final syntax has emerged on the model of local Mongolic languages and Tibetan. The underlying socio-historical scenario is explored in detail and analysed as a case of 'fort creolization' (Bickerton 1988). An overview is then provided of how head-final categories emerged in the dialect, namely through reanalysing Chinese form-meaning units to fulfil functions found in the substrate languages, with comparatively little reordering of grammatical devices inherent to Chinese or outright borrowing of substrate forms. The relevant changes are discussed in relation to Heine and Kuteva's (2005) model of contact-induced grammaticalization and findings from creole studies. Detailed discussion of the dialect's clausal syntax focuses on aspect marking, tense/mood marking, non-lexical functions of SAY and object scrambling. With regard to the aspectual system, an account is proposed of ZHE, which is typologically unusual in showing imperfective/perfective polysemy. Tense and modality is then considered with regard to the sentential particle lia, and its future marking function is seen to be conditioned by the aspectual class of the sentence, providing evidence of aspectually sensitive tenses (de Swart 1998) in Chinese. In terms of non-lexical functions of SAY, a range of clause-final uses are discussed, including as a complementizer and volitional mood marker, whilst discourse marking uses of SAY are interpreted in light of Traugott's (1995, 2010) notion of (inter)subjectification. Finally, object fronting in the dialect is shown to possess the properties of Japanese style scrambling, despite the absence of this type of movement across other Chinese dialects. Its existence in the Xining dialect, where phrase-structure change has occurred from head-initial to head-final, is argued to provide broad support for the correlation between head-final syntax and scrambling formalized by the Generalized Holmberg Constraint (Wallenberg 2009).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available