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Keith Tse


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Chinese locative particle (2)

I recently read from an old Chinese dialectal grammar manual that in certain varieties of Cantonese, there is another morpheme which is used in place of the locative particle 度, and this is 處 (pronounced [shü]). In fact, it seems that 度 and 處 are interchangeable in Cantonese locative constructions:









‘at school’



‘at the office’



‘at a friend’s’

This is interesting, since 處 (pronounced [chü]) is a noun in Chinese meaning ‘place’ e.g. 處所 ‘location’, and so its use here as a locative particle is perfectly intuitive. It must be said, however, that my impression of 處 is that it is regional and vulgar spoken mainly by the lower peasant classes rather than the urban elite. As explained before, substandard varieties often reveal more about language than standardized registers. I should really go to the market more often and talk to the butchers there, which could serve as a double mission for grocery-shopping and data-finding.

#cantonese #dialect #grammar

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London, United Kingdom