The selection of negative words in Taiwanese: The principles and pedagogy

Seng Hian Lau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study points out the principles behind the selection of negative words between m̄ and bô in Taiwanese. Firstly, it espouses the analysis in Li 1971, Lin 1974, and Cheng 1997, that volitional m̄ and non-volitional m̄ should be considered as two separate lexical items. Furthermore, as argued in this paper, apart from the primitive non-volitional negative prefix m̄, the volitional m̄ and bô have been lexicalized and are internally opaque. Due to the emergence of new negative words, consequent division of labor is revealed in different negation scopes, reflecting the syntactic distribution of verbal elements that employ a negative word accordingly. It is also shown that the so-called ‘exceptional verbs’ in the previous studies, which only use m̄ to negate, are those verbal elements which have been grammaticalized and are merged under projections higher than the perfective aspect projection. In addition to the analysis, this paper also provides pedagogical guidelines of this issue for Taiwanese language teachers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-149
Number of pages61
JournalTaiwan Journal of Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cartographic approach
  • Grammaticalization
  • Lexicalization
  • Negative words
  • Taiwanese

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'The selection of negative words in Taiwanese: The principles and pedagogy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this