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Open Access Syntactic Properties of the Discontinuous Construction “mai … lo” in Cantonese

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Syntactic Properties of the Discontinuous Construction “mai … lo” in Cantonese

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The goal of this paper is to explore various syntactic properties of mai and lo in Hong Kong Cantonese. It is argued that mai is an adverb and lo is a sentence final particle. Syntactically, the adverb mai and the sentence final particle lo form a phrase, which can be analyzed as a discontinuous construction expressing mood. It is shown that the mai … lo construction can co-occur with the discontinuous constructions that are correlated with events and tense/aspects and is incompatible with other discontinuous constructions that express mood. In terms of its syntactic distribution, the mai … lo construction occurs in root clauses only and is located in the highest position of the clause.


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