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ven. 20/10/2017 Séminaire DTT - Atelier morphosyntaxe (Imperatives & commands)
Apprehensive in Baoding
Na Song (INALCO)
ISH, A. Frossard

Apprehensive modality is a kind of modality that combines epistemic and attitudinal modality (Lichtenberk 1995:293). More precisely, it concerns the judgement of undesirable possibility (Verstraete 2015 :224). As a category apprehensive has not received much attention cross-linguistically up to now, yet several studies are dedicated to it. e.g. Amazonian languages (Ese ejja, Vuillermet to appear) and Australian languages (Angelo & Schultze-Berndt 2016:255-296, Verstraete 2015 :223- 268) etc. This paper focuses on the apprehensive expressed by a sentence-final enclitic particle lɛ.ja in Baoding dialect, a Mandarin dialect of the Sinitic group, spoken 140 km south of Beijing. As for apprehensive domain, besides some modal words as found in Standard Mandarin (Gao 2003), Baoding employs a grammaticalized form, the sentence-final enclitic particle lɛ.ja. It has two main functions: firstly, lɛ.ja has a temporal and epistemic function, which indicates an imminent future event; another extended function is apprehensive, denoting a potential imminent event considered as undesirable. We first discuss the predicates that co-occur with lɛ.ja and the reading they trigger. We also investigate how a possible source of the particle and how both functions may be related. Then we focus on the interaction between the apprehensive particle and polar question in Baoding. We conclude by resuming the semantic features of lɛ.ja and argue that contrary to previous opinions of considering apprehensive as a special form of a command (Aikhenvald 2010: 225-226), in the case of Baoding, apprehensive sentences may have a first person as its subject in a declarative sentence.


Aikhenvald A.Y. 2010. Imperatives and commands. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 225-226
Angelo D. & Schultze-Berndt E.2016. Beware bambai - lest it be apprehensive. In F. Meakins, & C. O'Shannessy (Eds.), Loss and Renewal: Australian languages since contact. De Gruyter Mouton 255-296
Gao Z.2003. Hanyu danxin-renshi qingtai ci ‘pa’, ‘kan’, ‘bie’ de yufahua 汉语担心-认识情态 词‘怕’‘看’‘别’的语法化 [The grammatical use of Chinese modal words-pa, kan, and bie expressing worry]. 中国社会科学院研究生院学报 Journal of Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 1: 97-112
Lichtenberk, F. 1995. Apprehensional Epistemics. Modality in Grammar and Discourse, 32: 293-327
Song N. 2015. A polysemic sentence-final particle in Baoding dialect and its apprehensive function. 48th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. 20-23 August. University of California, Santa Barbara
Verstraete, J-C. 2015. The semantics and pragmatics of composite mood marking: The non Pama-Nyungan languages of northern Australia. Linguistic Typology 9. 223–268
Vuillermet M. to appear. Grammatical Fear morphemes in Ese Ejja: Making the case for a morphosemantic apprehensional domain. In M. Ponsonnet and M. Vuillermet (eds). Morphology and emotions across the world’s languages, special issue of Studies in Language (42/1)


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