Beyond (In)directness: A Multivariate Model of Causation for Chinese Causatives


This study attempts to propose a multivariate model of causation to explain seven Chinese analytic causatives shǐ, lìng, ràng, jiào1, jiào2, gěi and yào after examining whether or not the (in)direct causation hypothesis, which is formulated first by Verhagen and Kemmer (1997) on Dutch causatives doen and laten, analyzed by Stukker (2005), falsified, mostly if not completely, by Speelman and Geeraerts (2009) works for these near-synonyms in Chinese. Starting with the assumption put forward by Ni (2012) that in Chinese shǐ expresses direct causation like doen and ràng expresses indirect causation like laten, I retrieve my data from the UCLA Chinese Corpus (Tao and Xiao 2007), and annotate them with the predictors assumed in the literature to address the following questions: 1) Do the factors related to (in)direct causation hypothesis play a role in distinguishing Chinese analytic causatives? 2) If they do, how significant are they? 3) Is the distinction of (in)directness an adequate reason for language users to choose one auxiliary over the others? 4) Is there possibility that Chinese is another case, which does not settle for this hypothesis but instead confirms the multivariate conception of grammar suggested by Speelman and Geeraerts? I implement both exploratory and confirmatory statistical techniques (e.g. multinomial logistic regression analysis) to gauge the effect of different predictors on the use of causatives and to diagnose the models I build. The statistic shows (in)direct causation hypothesis is not unimportant to Chinese analytic causatives but it is far from powerful enough to capture all the significant variation. It is rather a minor taxonomy since only about 30% data has been explained by the (in)direct causation only model. There are plenty of other factors beyond (in)directness which simultaneously draw the entire picture of Chinese causatives, such as lexical fixation. The conclusion does point to the multivariate model of causation, and more broadly, architecture of linguistic system in which structural, discursive and variational factors join together to determine the presence or absence of linguistic variants. References Ni, Yueru. 2012. Categories of Causative Verbs: a Corpus Study of Mandarin Chinese. Utrecht: Utrecht University MA thesis. Speelman, Dirk and Dirk Geeraerts. 2009. Causes for causatives: the case of Dutch 'doen' and 'laten'. In Ted Sanders and Eve Sweetser (eds.), Causal Categories in Discourse and Cognition 173-204. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Stukker, Ninke. 2005. Causality marking across levels of language structure. PhD dissertation, University of Utrecht. Tao, Hongyin and Richard Xiao. 2007. The UCLA Chinese Corpus (1st edition). UCREL, Lancaster. Verhagen, Arie and Suzanne Kemmer. 1997. Interaction and Causation: Causative Constructions in Modern Standard Dutch. Journal of Pragmatics 27. 61-82.status: publishe

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This paper was published in Lirias.

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