Negative attitudinal uses of quantifying classifier di45 in Wugang Xiang

Yi Deng*, Foong Ha Yap, Winnie Chor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


This paper investigates the extended uses of a Wugang Xiang classifier di45 beyond the referential domain, specifically its attitudinal uses. Using conversational data from Wugang Xiang, a Sinitic variety spoken in south-eastern Hunan province in China, we first examine the uses of di45 within the referential domain, namely, expressing a quantity of small amount and instantiating a noun. We then focus on the attitudinal uses of three types of di45 constructions, namely, relational [N+di45+N], [di45+N], and [di45+DEM+CL+N] constructions. Our analysis indicates that di45 in Wugang Xiang has fully pragmatized into an attitudinal marker in [di45+DEM+CL+N] constructions. We show that the attitudinal function of di45 is induced by one or more of the following factors: (i) the ‘trivialness’ reading inherent in the original use of di45 as a quantifying classifier, (ii) the ‘vagueness’ reading that emerges when di45 is associated with indefinite referents, and (iii) the ‘detachment’ effect which surfaces when di45 is associated with a referent that is obviously definite but with the demonstrative deliberately elided to downgrade potential face-threats to both speaker and others. The findings of this study shed light on how versatile classifiers often extend beyond the referential domain to serve discourse-pragmatic functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-30
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

User-Defined Keywords

  • Attitudinal classifiers
  • Attitudinal prosody
  • Quantifying classifier di45
  • Wugang Xiang


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