AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Dao as a verbal suffix in Chinese verbs

by Junghwan Maeng

Institution: University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
Year: 2016
Keywords: dao; suffix
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2078717
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/90679


This thesis focuses on the resultative ending dao as a suffix to Chinese verbs. Although dao is commonly understood as a mono-morphemic verb, a preposition or a verbal complement, little attention has been given to its function as a verbal suffix. This study attempts to highlight the inflectional nature of dao first by elaborating its differences from the virtually synonymous resultative ending jian in the case of perception verbs. Based on a stativity test proposed by Lakoff (1965), it was able to prove that dao has more inflectional features compared to the jian counterpart as it shows higher compatibility with intentionality adverbs and more natural occurrences in imperative contexts. However, since the initial research only deals with a limited amount of perception verbs that allow both jian and dao as a resultative ending, it is insufficient to prove whether dao actually operates as a verbal suffix in other types of perception verbs. Thus, a wider range of perception verbs that do not take jian but dao as a resultative ending were analyzed to explore dao’s inflectional nature to Chinese perception verbs. Using Vendler's verb classification (1965) and corpus data analysis, it was able to show that dao is the most frequent grammatical morpheme to occur directly after perception verbs and has a function of assigning the feature of achievement verb to the entire verb compound. Furthermore, this thesis also discusses novel dao use in internet language where dao is being infixed in V-O compounds verbs. Chen and Tao (2014) argue for dao's function as a transitivity marker by going through the examples of exteneded dao usages in contemporary Chinese language. Yet, the examples where dao co-occurs with intransitive compound verbs indicate that dao is not merely a transitivity marker, but behaves as a grammatical morpheme that increases the sense of achievement without drastically altering the meaning of the entire compound verb just as it does to perception verbs. Given the researches all put together, this paper highlights dao being grammaticalized into a verbal suffix in contemporary Chinese language.