Causality and modality: A case study on Teochew periphrastic causatives


  • Zhuosi Luo Georgetown University



periphrastic causatives, (sublexical) modality, (in)direct causatives, actuality entailment, benefactive/advsersative causatives, permissive causatives


Many linguistics works have adopted the CAUSE operator to analyze causal relations. However, recent studies have gradually converged on the idea that a denotation like CAUSE(e, e') is not sophisticated enough to capture complex causalities encoded in linguistic structures, echoing long-time discussions on causation in the field of philosophy. This study supports this view by working on the plural instantiations of causation encoded in five periphrastic causative constructions in Teochew, an understudied Southern Min language. I demonstrated causality notions encoded in Teochew causatives differ in four dimensions: (i) direct vs. indirect (temporal, spatial, intermediary agent), (ii) deterministic vs. probabilistic (in terms of the actuality entailment of the caused event), (iii) attitude-neutral vs. attitude-bearing (benefactive/adversative) and (iv) permissive vs. non-permissive. I provide a sublexical modal analysis paired with event semantics to capture these complexities, aiming to replace the monolithic CAUSE event linker and to show most of the causal complexities result from different flavors of sublexical modality encoded in the causative verbs.




How to Cite

Luo, Zhuosi. 2024. “Causality and Modality: A Case Study on Teochew Periphrastic Causatives”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 9 (1): 5650.