A reconsideration of Chinese“ pivotal sentence verbs (the first verbs of pivotal sentences)” as defined by Ota Tatsuo: A new perspective on the study of colloquial Chinese
104 , 2016-04-01 , 関西大学東西学術研究所
It is a characteristic of the Chinese language that both causative and passive verbs take the same form and are fundamentally indistinguishable; Ota Tatsuo classes them both as “pivotal sentence verbs” and treats them as identical, arguing that the distinction between causative and passive is based on subjective judgement and not on objective reality. There has been much research in recent years taking this perspective of Ota’s as its point of departure. Reviewing Ota’s original position in light of the findings of recent research, we can arrive at three conclusions: (1) “pivotal sentence verbs which have the meaning 'give' ”, as a result of grammaticalization and analogy, have expanded to the two grammatical functions of the causative and passive; (2) among them, the classic benefactive verbs yu (與) and gei (給) perform both causative and passive grammatical functions; (3) in most cases, the shift of a benefactive verb to a passive marker requires the mediation of a causative, but in some cases patterns such as <verb (+give)>-<benefactive>-<passive> ; <causative>-<reflexive>-<passive> may also be observed. The transition from benefactive verb to vocabulary marker for causative/passive usages is itself a Chinese colloquial prototype, expressed in ancient times with yu (與) and in modern times with gei (給). This paper calls the concept “prototype shift”, one which might offer a very effective new perspective if introduced into research on colloquial Chinese.