Two English inflectional morphemes borrowed into informal Mandarin Chinese on the Internet

Thumbnail Image
Wang, Yuli.
Riddle, Elizabeth M.
Issue Date
Thesis (M.A.)
Department of English
Other Identifiers

It is generally believed that it is next to impossible for Mandarin Chinese to borrow inflectional morphemes from English because of the typological distance between the two languages. This paper focuses on two English inflectional morphemes, the progressive aspect marker –ing and the past tense marker –ed, recently found in informal Mandarin Chinese on the internet. On the basis of 200 tokens of–ing and 3 tokens of Chinese phrases of –ed collected from posts on the internet, I suggest that –ing is not an inflectional bound morpheme in Mandarin Chinese, although it preserves the progressive meaning of –ing in English. Instead, it is much more like a free Chinese grammatical particle, and it serves as an substitute for the Chinese structure of VP+中(zhong). Furthermore, in contrast to native Chinese particles, -ing has the function of drawing people’s attention to the contents of the posts, and that its prevalence indicates the prestige of American culture and the fever for learning English in China. The borrowing of –ed has probably been influenced by the use of –ing, but appears to be rare at this time.