Similarities and Differences of Dou in Mandarin and Cantonese

Yu-yin Hsu (Corresponding Author), Ka Keung Lee

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


Although there are similarities between the uses of the word dou in Mandarin and Cantonese, there are also striking differences that have rarely been discussed in the literature. As well as raising awareness of this fact, the present study contributes to our understanding of how dou’s different semantic functions can be structurally distinguished: in the first instance, by using classes of adverbs as structural anchors to examine dou’s uses as a universal quantifier, an adverbial, and a functional focus head. This study establishes that, while dou can function in these Chinese languages as a universal quantifier (albeit with language-specific contextual requirements), in Cantonese it is generally interpreted as an adverb expressing ‘also’: a reading that is seldom available in dou in Mandarin. It is also hoped that this case study will yield insights that will inform a broader discussion of the similarities and the differences between these two languages.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Minimal Contrast to Meaning Construct
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-32-9240-6
ISBN (Print)978-981-32-9239-0
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


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