The object markers ba and jiang in modern literary Chinese
Sammanfattning: Popular Abstract in English Modern standard written Chinese has two common object markers, 把 ba and 将 jiang, both of which mark a direct object preceding the verb. Both markers appear to have been widely used in the spoken language of the Tang dynasty but the actual distribution is not entirely clear. Today jiang has disappeared from the dialects and subdialects of northern China and it is mainly used in the Yue dialect (Cantonese) and to some extent in the Kejia (Hakka) and Minnan dialects of southeastern China. Unsurprisingly, therefore, object marker ba in vernacular-oriented writings has gradually replaced jiang to become totally predominant. This tendency reached its peak in the early part of last century during the movement to establish a modern written language based on the spoken language of Beijing. While object marker jiang remained in use in formal writings, in literary texts it appeared mainly in frozen phrases and/or as a stylistic embellishment. This trend appears with surprising uniformity all over the Chinese-speaking area, even in Hong Kong. However, by analyzing the works of more than 200 writers active during various parts of last century it becomes obvious that, somewhat contrary to expectation, the use of object marker jiang in all kinds of texts recently has seen a remarkable increase. The analysis indicates that the break in the trend, except for Taiwan, almost uniformly took place in the early 1980s. The geographical distribution of the break, however, is not uniform. Relating a large number of representative works to the areas where the writers spent their formative years shows considerable differences. Different local traditions, the appearance of a relatively liberal cultural climate, the effect of market-forces on publishing and, to some extent, also dialects are shown to play a role. Due to the relative richness of material from the 1980s onwards ample evidence of differences in usage, sometimes related to the original meaning of the two object markers, also can be established and analyzed.
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