What is it about?

This paper describes multiple functions of the ‘wait’ verb dang2 in Hong Kong Cantonese: (a) a verb meaning ‘be in need of’, (b) a permissive verb meaning ‘let’, (c) a causative verb meaning ‘cause’, (d) a temporal marker meaning ‘at, when’, (e) a particle for giving notice of a coming event, and (f) a subordinating conjunction signifying someone’s surprise. Four development paths are proposed to account for the multifunctionality: ‘wait’ > (a); ‘wait’ > (d); ‘wait’ > (b) > (e); and ‘wait’ > (c) > (f).

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Why is it important?

This case draws attention to the potential of ‘wait’ morphemes to be employed to express various other abstract concepts and, furthermore, highlights the role of indirect sources in the theory of grammaticalization.


I hope this article can contribute to the theory of grammaticalization.

Dr. Yik-Po Lai
Education University of Hong Kong

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This page is a summary of: Multiple functions of the Cantonese ‘wait’ verb dang2 and their historical development, Studies in Language, September 2020, John Benjamins, DOI: 10.1075/sl.19011.lai.
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