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The Formation of the Copula Function of WEI 为 and the Nature of the "WEI 为 V" Construction

Jianhong Zeng (UGent) and Christoph Anderl (UGent)
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Grammatical Studies in Buddhist Hybrid Chinese: the passive construction in early Chinese translation literature (2nd-5th century AD)
Abstract
This paper aims to explain the development of the copula function of wei and to show that wei in the “wei V” construction is a copula during pre-Han times, rather than a passive marker. Therefore, in essence, the “wei V” construction is a copula construction rather than a passive construction. In this analysis, we shall pay special attention to the “yi X wei Y” construction. We conclude that: 1. The generalized copula function of wei derives from the “yi X wei Y” construction because of the disposal function of yi, and because wei absorbed the characteristics of the “yi X wei Y” construction. This conclusion is based on two observations: a. The unique features of wei as a copula are congruent with its function in the “yi X wei Y” construction. b. A change occurred from “V yi wei” to “V wei” indicating that wei replaced “yi wei” to a certain degree (see Table 5 below). 2. “X wei V” is an alternative of the “yi X wei V” pattern when a causer (C) does not appear with wei in the same clause. This conclusion is further supported by the following three observations: a. “Yi X wei V” and “X wei V” have the same (low) frequency. b. Both “yi X wei V” and “wei V” are very limited in their semantic range. c. The exchangeability of the “yi X wei V” and “wei V” constructions does not have any influence on their semantics. Therefore, the “X wei V” structure should be regarded as a copula construction. Although it would also be convenient to construe “X wei V” as a passive construction, it does not become so before the Han period because of the continued influence of the “yi X wei V” construction. “Wei A V” is formed through the omission of yi in the “yi X wei A V” or, alternatively, through the addition of the agent A in “wei V”, whereas “wei A (zhi) suo V” is the consequence of “A (zhi) suo V” replacing “A V” in “wei A V”. Therefore, none of the wei constructions in pre-Qin should be regarded as syntactically functioning as passive constructions. Rather, “wei A suo V” became a common passive construction only in the Han Dynasty. 文章分析了“为”字功能的形成过程,并证明“为V”结构中的“为”应释为系词,而非被动标记。因此,“为V”结构本质上是系词结构而非被动结构。本文从分析“以X为Y”结构出发,得出以下结论: 一,“为”的系词功能来自于“以X为Y”结构,因为“以”的处置功能,及“为”吸收了“以X为Y”结构的构式特征。该结论基于两个事实:(1)“为”作为系词的功能特征和“以X为Y”的构式特征有高度的吻合性;(2)存在“V以为”省略为“V为”的明显发展趋势。 二,当致使者不和“为”共现于同一个从句时,“X为V”是“以X为V”的可替换项。该结论基于三个事实:(1)二者的使用频率均较低;(2)二者中的“V”的语义范围均非常有限;(3)二者具有可互换性。虽然“X为V”具有成为被动式的潜力,但因无法摆脱“以X为Y”结构的影响而最终没有发展成为成熟的被动式。 三,“为AV”可能是“以X为AV”省略“以”而成,或者由“为V”添加A而成,而“为A(之)所V”则是“A(之)所V”替代“为AV”中的“AV”而成。因此,先秦時期的“为”字式,从句法上来说都不是被动式。但是,“为A所V”在汉代成为了一个真正的被动式,而这个问题将在另一篇文章中细述。 关键词 系词结构 被动结构 “以X为Y”处置结构 “为V”结构 “为AV”结构 “为A(之)所V”结构
Keywords
Passive construction, Chinese Historical Linguistics, Copula construction, Disposal construction

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Citation

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Chicago
Zeng, Jianhong, and Christoph Anderl. 2019. “The Formation of the Copula Function of WEI 为 and the Nature of the ‘WEI 为 V’ Construction.” Journal of Chinese Linguistics 47 (1).
APA
Zeng, Jianhong, & Anderl, C. (2019). The Formation of the Copula Function of WEI 为 and the Nature of the “WEI 为 V” Construction. Journal of Chinese Linguistics, 47(1).
Vancouver
1.
Zeng J, Anderl C. The Formation of the Copula Function of WEI 为 and the Nature of the “WEI 为 V” Construction. Journal of Chinese Linguistics. 2019;47(1).
MLA
Zeng, Jianhong, and Christoph Anderl. “The Formation of the Copula Function of WEI 为 and the Nature of the ‘WEI 为 V’ Construction.” Journal of Chinese Linguistics 47.1 (2019): n. pag. Print.
@article{8115669,
  abstract     = {This paper  aims to explain the development of the copula function  of wei and to show that wei in the {\textquotedblleft}wei V{\textquotedblright} construction is a copula during pre-Han times, rather than a passive marker. Therefore, in essence, the {\textquotedblleft}wei V{\textquotedblright} construction is a copula construction rather than a passive construction. In this analysis, we shall pay special attention to the {\textquotedblleft}yi X wei Y{\textquotedblright} construction.  We conclude that:
1.\unmatched{0009}The generalized copula function of wei derives from the {\textquotedblleft}yi X wei Y{\textquotedblright} construction because of the disposal function of yi, and because wei absorbed the characteristics of the {\textquotedblleft}yi X wei Y{\textquotedblright} construction. This conclusion is based on two observations:
a.\unmatched{0009}The unique features of wei as a copula are congruent with its function in the {\textquotedblleft}yi X wei Y{\textquotedblright} construction.
b.\unmatched{0009}A change occurred from {\textquotedblleft}V yi wei{\textquotedblright} to {\textquotedblleft}V wei{\textquotedblright} indicating that wei replaced {\textquotedblleft}yi wei{\textquotedblright} to a certain degree (see Table 5 below).
2.\unmatched{0009}{\textquotedblleft}X wei V{\textquotedblright} is an alternative of the {\textquotedblleft}yi X wei V{\textquotedblright} pattern when a causer (C) does not appear with wei in the same clause. This conclusion is further supported by the following three observations:
a.\unmatched{0009}{\textquotedblleft}Yi X wei V{\textquotedblright} and {\textquotedblleft}X wei V{\textquotedblright} have the same (low) frequency.
b.\unmatched{0009}Both {\textquotedblleft}yi X wei V{\textquotedblright} and {\textquotedblleft}wei V{\textquotedblright} are very limited in their semantic range.
c.\unmatched{0009}The exchangeability of the {\textquotedblleft}yi X wei V{\textquotedblright} and {\textquotedblleft}wei V{\textquotedblright} constructions does not have any influence on their semantics. 
Therefore, the {\textquotedblleft}X wei V{\textquotedblright} structure should be regarded as a copula construction. Although it would also be convenient to construe {\textquotedblleft}X wei V{\textquotedblright} as a passive construction, it does not become so before the Han period because of the continued influence of the {\textquotedblleft}yi X wei V{\textquotedblright} construction.
{\textquotedblleft}Wei A V{\textquotedblright} is formed through the omission of yi in the {\textquotedblleft}yi X wei A V{\textquotedblright} or, alternatively, through the addition of the agent A in {\textquotedblleft}wei V{\textquotedblright}, whereas {\textquotedblleft}wei A (zhi) suo V{\textquotedblright} is the consequence of {\textquotedblleft}A (zhi) suo V{\textquotedblright} replacing {\textquotedblleft}A V{\textquotedblright} in {\textquotedblleft}wei A V{\textquotedblright}. Therefore, none of the wei constructions in pre-Qin should be regarded as syntactically functioning as passive constructions. Rather, {\textquotedblleft}wei A suo V{\textquotedblright} became a common passive construction only in the Han Dynasty.

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  author       = {Zeng, Jianhong and Anderl, Christoph},
  issn         = {0091-3723},
  journal      = {Journal of Chinese Linguistics},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {44},
  title        = {The Formation of the Copula Function of WEI \unmatched{4e3a} and the Nature of the {\textacutedbl}WEI \unmatched{4e3a} V{\textacutedbl} Construction},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/jcl.2017.0049},
  volume       = {47},
  year         = {2019},
}

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