Relating Causative and Passive Bun Constructions in Hakka

Vol. 45 No. 2   06/2015  


Relating Causative and Passive Bun Constructions in Hakka


Huang, Han-chun









Key words

causative, passive, ambiguity, affectedness, Hakka bun construction


      Bun「分」is a versatile function word in Hakka which occurs in dative, purposive, causative, and passive constructions. Both causative and passive bun constructions have subtypes. Causative bun constructions can be interpersonal causatives, unwilling permissives, or descriptive causatives. Passive bun constructions can be direct passives, possessive passives, or impersonal passives. Structurally, causative and passive bun constructions are indistinguishable, which gives rise to the potential of ambiguity, caused either by the loss of willingness on the part of the subject NPs, or the ergativity of psych verbs. When a verb with low agentivity appears after bun, the reading tends to be causative rather than passive, even though the grammatical subject is the semantic object of the post- bun transitive verb.
  All the subtypes of causative and passive constructions with Hakka bun (except for impersonal passives) can be subsumed under an affectedness construction, with the causatives having an affector and an event and the passives having an affectee and an event. The affectedness construction leaves unspecified the semantic role (affector or affectee) of the subject NP. All the subtypes are connected via polysemy links, except for the impersonal passive construction, which is connected to the unwilling permissive via subpart links.



Author: Huang, Han-chun
Genre: Article