A corpus-based study of directives in Taiwanese Southern Min

Miao Hsia Chang*, Ún Giân Iûnn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study aims to examine the subtypes of directives and their realization patterns in Taiwanese Southern Min (TSM). The data were drawn from a play script corpus published in the 20th century. Nine directive subtypes were identified: advice, begging, invitation, order, offer, request, suggestion, urge, and warning. The realization patterns were analyzed in terms of the main components in the directives: alerter, discourse marker, politeness marker, subject, modal expression, verb phrase, and utterance final particle. The analysis reveals a number of features: (1) Alerters mainly take the form of an address term; (2) Utterance-initial discourse markers are mainly realized by tan ‘now’; (3) The subject is either hearer-dominated or speaker- and hearer-dominated, with the latter expressing solidarity in casual situations; (4) the politeness marker chhián tends to take an overt subject; (5) The modal verb tióh accounts for the majority of subtypes; (6) The dominant verb types include dynamic, stative, uttering, and ingesting verbs; (7) Complex verb constructions mainly include directional verbs, disposal markers, and benefactive verbs; (8) Directional verbs are pervasive across all directives. A metaphorical transfer is operative in the use of directional verbs. Those marking an action toward the speaker (e.g., lâi ‘come’) are strongly associated with a positive attitude, while those expressing movement away from the speaker (e.g., khì ‘go’) are highly connected to an adversative mood. The omnipresence of [lâi V] suggests that it has been conventionalized as a default bundle to express politeness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-336
Number of pages37
JournalConcentric: Studies in Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov 17


  • Corpus
  • Directives
  • Request
  • Speech act
  • Taiwanese Southern Min

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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