What is it about?

This paper provides a systematic treatment of single-word English prepositions in various patterns in Hong Kong Cantonese. These constructions have been overlooked in the relevant literature since prepositions are relatively rare than other content words in language contact.

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Why is it important?

Though relatively rare, the patterns have in fact been used persistently in Hong Kong Cantonese. Some of them are products of structural borrowing from English, which has hitherto been seldom studied in the literature on Cantonese-English contact. There are also patterns which are due to convergence between English and Cantonese. The paper thus broadens the horizons on Cantonese-English contact which has been believed to be primarily in the form of lexical borrowing or code-mixing/code-switching, and thus it subverts the conception that the syntax of the two languages are always kept separate despite language contact.


The paper is the result of a rather long period of research, (re-)thinking and writing. I am glad to see it published finally and hope that the broader topic - prepositions in language contact - will draw more attention from linguists interested in language contact. I also hope that the work will shed some light on Cantonese syntax and what are exactly prepositions in different languages.

Professor Brian H.S. Chan
University of Macau

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Single-word English prepositions in Hong Kong Cantonese, Chinese Language and Discourse An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, August 2018, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/cld.17013.cha.
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