A parallelism in the postverbal auxiliary verb constructions in languages of Northeast and Southeast Asia

Chingduang Yurayong, Pui Yiu Szeto

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The present study puts in parallel the use of six auxiliary verbs across languages in Northeast and Southeast Asia with some reference to South Asian and West African languages. The results show that the following groups of lexical verbs are employed as auxiliaries with similar semantics in many languages: (1) be/sit/stand/stay > progressive, (2) give > benefactive, (3) put/keep/leave/throw > completive, (4) see/look > attemptive, (5) get/take > capabilitive and (6) become > possibilitive. Despite the variation between head-initial and head-final word order across languages in Asia, these auxiliaries similarly occur after the content verb of a clause in many languages. Our proposal is that the postverbal position of these auxiliaries has its root in the multiverb construction, in which several sequential actions are in a complementary relation, and the omission of optional adjunct(s) around the non-initial verb(s) in a sequence has evoked its semantic bleaching and auxiliation. Putting aside the explanation by inheritance and contact, an unequal genealogical and areal distribution of these constructions point to a more general cognitive, language-internal tendency, independent of the word order typology of each language, which yields similar construction patterns on the language interface.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationЯзыки стран Дальнего Востока, Юго–Восточной Азии и Западной Африки : материалы XIV Международной научной конференции, Москва, 23–24 ноября 2020 г.
EditorsАнастасия Юрьевна Вихрова
Number of pages7
Place of PublicationМосква
Publication date24 Nov 2020
ISBN (Print)978-5-6045244-4-2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
Event14th International Conference on the Languages of the Far East, Southeast Asia and West Africa - Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russian Federation
Duration: 23 Nov 202024 Nov 2020

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages
  • Auxiliaries
  • Grammaticalization
  • Northeast Asia
  • Southeast Asia

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