The loss of morphology and the emergence of analytic structures in Chinese


  • Barbara Meisterernst



Chinese, morpho-syntax, first phrase syntax, resultativity


In this article, we propose that the derivational morphology of Archaic Chinese was hosted in a split VP (adopting the structure proposed in Ramchand 2008), and that its loss was one of the triggers for a change of Chinese from a more synthetic to an analytic language. The discussion focusses on the resultative reading of the *-s su?ix, and we propose that its basic function was an overt res head in the sense of Ramchand (2008) with both unaccusative/intransitive and causative/transitive verbs. This way, we unify the two major functions – valency decreasing, and valency increasing – proposed for the su?ix in the literature so far. The increasing opacity of the verbal morphology at the end of the LAC period triggered the emergence of new structures such as disyllabification of verbs and the emergence of resultative constructions including the source structures of the Modern Mandarin aspectual su?ixes, which started to replace the old morphology. The new structures were extended by way of analogy also to previously morphologically unmarked verbs.