Passive and unaccusative in Jieyang dialect of Chaozhou

Stephen Matthews, Huiling Xu, Virgina Yip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


A distinctive syntactic feature of the Chaozhou dialect group is the use of the same morpheme in the passive and in certain intransitive constructions. In the Jieyang variety, the passive marker k’eG derived from the verb ‘give’ requires an agent, a requirement which we relate to the subcategorization of the lexical verb ‘give’. We show that the same morpheme is used with unaccusative verbs in the form [k’eG i V], where i is an expletive pronominal: it cannot encode an agent because the unaccusative predicates concerned lack an agent argument. Therefore what appears to be a passive marker with agent in fact constitutes overt coding of unaccusativity, of a kind unusual in Chinese dialects but paralleled in several Indo-European languages. The passive and unaccusative constructions are shown to share thematic and aspectual properties: the surface subject carries the role of theme or patient, and the predicate denotes a change of state, hence the requirement for a resultative verbal complement (RVC). The [k’eG i V-RVC] construction is shown to involve formation of an unaccusative complex predicate, with the RVC contributing a change of state component to the aspectuality of the predicate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-298
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of East Asian linguistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Passive and unaccusative in Jieyang dialect of Chaozhou'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this