The Object Markers Ba and Jiang in Modern Literary Chinese (RV) : A Statistical and Sociolinguistic Analysis

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Abstract in Undetermined
Modern standard written Chinese has two common object markers, ba and jiang. Both markers appear to have been widely used in the spoken language of the Tang dynasty. Today jiang has disappeared from the dialects and subdialects of northern China and it is mainly used in the Yue dialect (Cantonese). Object marker ba in vernacular-oriented writings has gradually replaced jiang to become totally predominant. 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 uniformity all over the Chinese-speaking area. However, by analyzing the works of more than 240 writers active during various parts of last century it becomes obvious that 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 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.


  • Wai-Ling Ragvald
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History and Archaeology


  • pattern, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South-East China, Hakka, North China, East and Central China, tradition, Minnan dialect, Cantonese, Mandarin, action verbs, four character phrase, euphony, ba, disposal construction, jiang, object marker, literary Chinese, instrumental, style
Original languageEnglish
PublisherLAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing GmbH & Co. KG
Number of pages296
ISBN (Print)978-3-8484-2279-1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch