The multifunctionality of Mandarin diào 掉 : A cross-linguistical perspective

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationChinese Language and Discourse
Online published9 Jun 2022
Publication statusOnline published - 9 Jun 2022


This paper explores the various functions of diào in Mandarin Chinese as it changes from a verb to a phase marker. As a phase marker, diào provides a natural endpoint to a co-occurring event and indicates completion, which is a distinct function from the perfect marker le. In this shift, the meaning of diào also expands, including ‘falling down’, ‘throwing down’, ‘disappearing’, ‘removal’, ‘completion’ and ‘change of state’. The multifunctionality of diào is the result of grammaticalization along with semantic change and extension. Cognitive mechanisms such as metonymic and metaphoric extensions, pragmatic inferencing, analogy on Verb-Complement structures, and semantic generalization all contribute to the grammaticalization of diào, with further influence from contact with southern Chinese dialects. This paper further argues that the grammaticalization and semantic extension of diào is in accordance with the development of aspectual markers crosslinguistically, reflecting the commonality in human cognition.

Research Area(s)

  • multifunctionality, grammaticalization, The Mandarin diào, completive, semantic evolution, 多功能性, 语法化, 普通话“掉”, 语义演变, 完结体