Diminutive in Chinese Dialects - its Typology, Geographical Distribution and Development

Vol. 25 No. 4   12/1995  


Diminutive in Chinese Dialects its Typology, Geographical Distribution and Development


Pen-Ying Wang









Key words

Diminutive, er-suffixation, ai-suffixation


     Diminutive is a syntactic formation, which denotes something smaller. In rhetoric it may carry the speaker’s affection or banter. However in Chinese dialects, both employ the same diminutive formation. According to our observation, there are 4 diminutive formations in Chinese dialects-兒-suffixation,子-suffixation,-suffixation and word reduplication.-suffixation and子-suffixation are Chinese native. There are solid documentary evidence to prove thatand, originally content words, have turned to function words. Because the pronunciations of these suffixes varies, and because the time for suffixes merge to stems differs in dialects, there exist a lot of different phonological representations for-suffixes and-suffixes. Rhotacized-suffixes appear themselves in North ern dialects. Nasalized -suffixes and diminutive tone changes are usually found in southern dialects.-suffixes distributes in Jin, Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects.- suffix, which is exclusively found in Min dialects, may be traced its origin from Non-Han languages. Word reduplication only scatters among Chinese dialects.




Author: Pen-Ying Wang
Genre: Article