Semantic Convergence of ALL and ONLY to tɕin in Chengdu Chinese

Jiajuan Xiong, Chu-ren Huang

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review


The adverbial uses of ALL and ONLY can converge to one and the same visual property word 净 tɕin ‘clean’ in Chengdu Chinese. These two apparently opposite meanings find their common source as “homogeneity”, which may hail from their literal “clean” and “pure” meanings. Crucially, in order for semantic “homogeneity” to apply, plurality is required, be it plurality of a given nominal set or plurality of a set formed by multiple events. The former one, being homogeneous across items, leads to the ALL meaning, whereas the latter one, being homogeneous across time, gives rise to the ONLY sense. As for their application, the ALL operator takes a right-to-left directionality and applies to the plural nominal phrase(s) left to tɕin, while the ONLY operator adopts the left-to-right direction to apply to a constituent within predicate, e.g., the verb, the object, the time adverbial or the location adverbial, depending on contexts. It is with regard to plurality and homogeneity/exhaustivity that the meanings of ALL and ONLY converge to one single item tɕin. Moreover, we find that sensory words in Chengdu Chinese and Cantonese, compared to those in Mandarin, are more likely to serve as adverbials.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Minimal Contrast to Meaning Construct
Subtitle of host publicationCorpus-based, Near Synonym Driven Approaches to Chinese Lexical Semantics
EditorsQi Su, Weidong Zhan
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-32-9240-6
ISBN (Print)978-981-32-9239-0
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2019

Publication series

NameFrontiers in Chinese Linguistics


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