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Auteur: Chiou-shing YEH

Co-Auteur(s): Huei-ling LAI, National Chengchi University, Taiwan Chun CHANG, National Taichung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan

Psych-verbs in Sinitic Languages: Lexical Properties, Constructions and Speaker's Epistemological Stances

Abstract/Résumé: The study provides syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic investigations of psych verbs and the related constructions in Sinitic languages with a particular detailed examination of kiann1 (驚) in Southern Min and pa3 (怕) in Hakka. First, both kiann1 and pa3 literally denoting ‘to fear, to be afraid of/to be frightened at’ take experiencer and stimulus as their arguments. But whereas kiann1 can have alternative constructions (i) Experiencer-Subject Construction, as in (a) i1 m7 kiann1 chit4-e5 kan1-khou2 ‘He does not fear privation’ or (ii) Cause/Theme-Subject Construction, as in (b) li2 m7 thang1 kiann1 tioh8 goan2 a1-niu5 ‘You cannot frighten my mother’, pa3 scarcely occurs in colloquial usage except for in proverbs as in (c) Nam5 giang1 teu5 co3 hong5, ng2 pa3 ga3 co3 long5 ‘Males are afraid of plunging into wrong vocations, and females are afraid of marrying wrong husbands’. Second, both develop into an adverbial function denoting ‘probably, it’s possible that…’ whereby both kiann1 and pa3, situating a higher position syntactically, profile the speaker and a proposition as their arguments. In both languages, the adverbial usage predominates its distribution in the corpus data. With regard to the observations, we first claim that both kiann1 and pa3 have grammaticalized their psych verb meaning into a modal meaning, following Traugott’s view of grammaticalization as a process involving morphosyntactic strings or constructions (cf. also Meillet 1912, Bybee, et al. 1994, and Harris 2005). Moreover, the examples illustrate that the verbal usage profiles the subject in the sentence while the adverbial usage profiles the speaker instead, indicating a case of subjectivity that reflects the speaker’s epistemological stand on what is evaluated. In addition, both of them further develop the intersubjective use as manifested in the abundantly found entrenched constructions bian2 kiann1 ‘Don’t be afraid’ in Southern Min and m5 pa3 ‘Don’t be afraid’ in Hakka functioning as the imperative, denoting that the requested actions are portrayed as a sense of beneficiality to the listener rather than the speaker. It carries a pragmatic hortative function whereby the speaker is encouraging or inciting someone to action (cf. Bybee et al. 1994). To summarize, emphasizing the form and function relationship, this paper aims to offer a unified account of various functions of psych verb constructions in Sinitic languages, unraveling their intricate syntactic, semantic and pragmatic features.