Journal of Social Sciences

A Preliminary Investigation of the Adversity Reading in Archaic WEI Passives

Pei-Jung Kuo and Jun-Yu Zhang

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2012.435.446

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 8, Issue 3

Pages 435-446


Problem statement: It is well-known that modern Chinese imposes such a requirement on the subject in the BEI passive, but in fact it does not hold tightly in Modern Chinese. Only 50-75% of passives have the adversity reading on the subject. Approach: One approach to explain this phenomenon is to adopt the view of grammaticalization and trace the semantic change of the morpheme BEI. However, the majority of the passive construction in archaic Chinese is not the BEI passive, but the WEI construction. The Adversity reading in the WEI construction in archaic Chinese is examined as a pilot study in this study. Results: Our research result shows that in the book of Shi Ji, among 50 tokens, 78% of the WEI passive has the adversity reading. Conclusion: This thus indicates that our impression about the adversity reading imposed on passives is not an absolute requirement, no matter in modern or archaic Chinese. On the other hand, the investigation of the WEI…SUO construction indicates that there is a decline of the adversity reading. We therefore conclude that a follow-up study should be carried out to complete the whole picture of the investigation of the adversity reading in Chinese passives.


© 2012 Pei-Jung Kuo and Jun-Yu Zhang. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.