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Typological Change in Chinese Syntax$
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Dan Xu

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199297566

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297566.001.0001

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From Old Chinese to Middle Chinese Word Order and Word Order Change

From Old Chinese to Middle Chinese Word Order and Word Order Change

(p.3) 1 From Old Chinese to Middle Chinese Word Order and Word Order Change
Typological Change in Chinese Syntax


Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that, typologically, Old Chinese (OC) was a mixed language, in terms of both language type and word order. It shows that the verb-object (VO) order was preferred by Chinese language evolution while the object-verb (OV) order fell into disuse or only survives in expressions and proverbs. It demonstrates why a spatial orientation term and a place word which share the same semantic property [location] needed a preposition in Middle Chinese but not in OC. Verbs preceding localizers or place words were progressively grammaticalized into prepositions. Consequently, locations which has, for example, localizers and place words were marked and became different from ordinary NP. The motion verb changed its meaning from ‘to leave’ to ‘to go’ in this reorganization of word order.

Keywords:   Old Chinese, Middle Chinese, word order, syntax, typology, language evolution, grammaticalization, localizers

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