CRLAO – “Two Modal Particles in Caijia (quasi-Sinitic): Contrast and Overlap”

Communication intitulée “Two Modal Particles in Caijia (quasi-Sinitic): Contrast and Overlap” présentée par Shanshan Lu (CRLAO-EHESS) dans le cadre du Séminaire du CRLAO sur « La typologie linguistique de l’Asie orientale » :

Date : mercredi 15 février 2017 de 16h30 à 18h.

Lieu : salle 200, Centre de recherches Europe-Eurasie (CREE) à l’INaLCO, 2, rue de Lille 75007 Paris.

 (La présentation sera donnée en anglais.)


Caijia is a non-classified and endangered language of SVO spoken by less than 1000 people in northwestern Guizhou Province in southwestern China. This paper presents an analysis of two modal particles tv̩55 (< ‘obtain, acquire’) and to55 (< ? ‘to’) in Caijia which both possess a basic meaning of ‘can’. These two particles are phonetically and syntactically similar ([VP to55/tv̩55]), due to which difficulties arise when distinguishing one from the other. Both of them are also multi-functionally used in the realm of modality.

The contrast is very clear when expressing participant-internal and deontic modality (cf. van der Auwera & Plungian 1998) and there is almost no overlap between to55 and tv̩55, i.e. to55 is mainly for participant-internal possibility and tv̩55 is mainly for deontic obligation, permission and prohibition. However, we observe that overlap and contrast between tv̩55 and to55 both exist when expressing non-deontic and epistemic possibilities. For example,


(1)       ŋo55     kv̩55     kʰua21  o.         ɣa21     to55/tv̩55         o.

            1          foot     good    PRT    walk    can/can           PRT

            ‘My foot has recovered. I can walk now.’


(2)       a.         mɔ21       sɿ55,     niɔ55    sɿ55      je21      piɔ55-kʰɯ55      lɛ21tsʰɛ21

                       that     water   want    let        3S        boil-open        only then

                       ã21       tv̩55/*to55.

                       drink   obtain/can

                       ‘The water, it needs to be boiled so that one can drink it.’

  1. 2121po55           niɔ21    ʈv̩5     ɪŋ55soŋ21          tsa55-ʈv̩55

            that     peach   want    PASS   sun                  bake-hit (the target)

            tsʰɛ21   tsʰɿ55    to55/*tv̩55.

            then     red       can/obtain

            ‘Peaches can only turn red, after being shined on by the sun.’

Consequently, this paper sets out to find out the rules for the overlap and to define the contrast between to55 and tv̩55 in order to propose a plausible explanation for this phenomenon. Two hypotheses are thus set up for this purpose: Hypothesis I: to55 develops from the resultative to55 and is controlled by the verb, but tv̩55 develops from the predicative full verb tv̩55 ‘be all right, be suitable’ reanalyzed from ‘obtain, acquire’. Hypothesis II: there are two factors that are responsible for the overlap and contrast of these two particles: i) their proper source constructions and ii) degree of grammaticalization.

Reference: Van der Auwera, J. & V. A. Plungian. 1998. Modality’s Semantic Map. Linguistic Typology 2 (1998). 79-124.


Pour toute information complémentaire, veuillez contacter Hilary Chappell (CRLAO-EHESS) sur ou au CRLAO, 105 bd Raspail,  M. Hugues Feler au 01 53 10 53 71.

Citer ce billet
Fiorella B. (2017, 13 février). CRLAO – “Two Modal Particles in Caijia (quasi-Sinitic): Contrast and Overlap” Association française d'études chinoises 法國漢學協會. Consulté le 28 mai 2024, à l’adresse

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