Transitivity Variations in Mandarin VO Compounds—A Comparable Corpus-based Approach

Menghan Jiang, Chu-ren Huang

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


This paper adopts a comparable corpus-based statistical approach to VO compound Variations in two varieties of Mandarin Chinese and examines the variations from a transitivity perspective. In recent years, more and more VO compounds are observed to have transitive usages. Previous studies categorize the transitivity of VO compound in a dichotomy way, while we argue that each VO actually differs in their degree of transitivity, especially when the variations between different variants of Mandarin are taken into consideration. The degree of transitivity can be measured by both transitivity frequency and its semantic/syntactic properties (follow the theory of Hopper and Thompson [1]). In our study, we compare the transitivity difference between Mainland and Taiwan Mandarin by adopting a corpus-based statistical approach. For both transitivity frequency and semantic/syntactic properties study, the results clearly show that Taiwan VO compounds have a higher degree of transitivity than the Mainland counterparts. We further argue that the higher transitivity degree in Taiwan also illustrates the conservatism of Taiwan Mandarin. This observation is consistent with the earlier study of transitivity variations of light verbs (Jiang et al. [2]) and follows the established null hypothesis in language changes that peripheral varieties tend to be more conservative.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChinese Lexical Semantics - 18th Workshop, CLSW 2017, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsYunfang Wu, Qi Su, Jia-Fei Hong
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9783319735726
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Event18th Chinese Lexical Semantics Workshop, CLSW 2017 - Leshan, China
Duration: 18 May 201720 May 2017

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10709 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference18th Chinese Lexical Semantics Workshop, CLSW 2017


  • Language Variation
  • Transitivity
  • VO Compound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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