A Colexficational Analysis of Chū in Modern Chinese





chū, directional verb, colexified pair, metaphor, metonymy


Directional verbs in modern Chinese, notably chū, are crucial. Previous studies on chū pay little attention to colexification and its mechanisms; they primarily focus on polysemy, syntactic restriction, and diachronic evolution in Mandarin Chinese. Research on Chinese topolects has also been neglected. Development of the Database of Cross-linguistic Colexifications (CLICS3) facilitates its cross-linguistic and topolectal exploration. This paper first discusses colexified pairs of chū in Modern Chinese, and constructs its colexificational network based on the CLICS3. It also argues for colexificational mechanisms of colexified extensions. Conceptual metaphor and metonymy are considered two core mechanisms accounting for the colexified extensions of chū. Metaphoric colexified extensions map onto the space, time, and state domain, following the order of “space > time > state”. As for the metonymic colexified extensions, the extended concepts result from different substructures of the image schema profiled in the motion event of chū.


Download data is not yet available.


Chu, Z. X., Xu, C. H., He, F. L., Huang, C. P., & Yin, D. Z. (1999). The “V chū +N wài” pattern of modern Chinese-and why is this pattern rare in modern times. Ancient Chinese Studies, 4, 26-29.

Croft, W., & Cruse, D. A. (2004). Cognitive linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Evans, V. (2004). The structure of time: Language, meaning and temporal cognition. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

François, A. (2008). Semantic maps and the typology of colexification. In V. Martine (Ed.), From polysemy to semantic change: Towards a typology of lexical semantic associations (pp. 163-215). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Gast, V., & Koptjevskaja-Tamm, M. (2022). Patterns of persistence and diffusibility in the European lexicon. Linguistic Typology, 26(2), 403-438.

Gibbs, R., & Matlock, T. (1997). Psycholinguistic perspectives on polysemy. In H., Cuyckens. & B. Zawada (eds.). Polysemy in Cognitive Linguistics (pp. 213-237). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Heine, B., Ulrike, C., & Friederike, H. (1991). Grammaticalization: A conceptual framework. Chicago: Universal of Chicago Press.

Hu, W., Gan, Y. W., & Chen, Y. F. (2019). Directional verbs of Guangzhou Nansha Cantonese “bury, open, rise, fall, and leave”. Journal of Jiaying College, 5, 85-88.

Hu, X. Y. (2012). A Study of Grammaticalization of Chinese directional verbs. Guangxi: Guangxi Normal University.

Institute of Linguistics, CASS. (2016). Modern Chinese Dictionary (7th Edition) (Chinese Edition). The Commercial Press.

Joshua, J., Jeseph, W., & Henry, T. (2019). Emotion semantics show both cultural variation and universal structure. Science, 366(6472): 1517-1522.

Lakoff, G. (1987). Women, fire and dangerous things: what category reveal about the mind. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (2003). Why cognitive linguistics require embodied realism. Cognitive Linguistics, 13(3), 245-264.

Langacker, R. W. (1987). Foundations of cognitive grammar. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Langacker, R. W. (2013). Essentials of cognitive grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lehrer, A. (1992). A theory of vocabulary structure: Retrospectives and prospectives. Thirty Years of Linguistic Evolution, 243-256.

Li, R. (Ed.). (2012). Great dictionary of modern Chinese dialects (43 Volumes). Jiangsu Education.

Liu, F. (2015). The evolution of directional verbs. Chengdu: Southwest Jiaotong University Press.

Liu, Y. H. (1998). Directional complement interpretation. Beijing: Beijing Language and Culture University Press.

Rzymski, C., & Tresoldi, T. et al. (2019). The Database of Cross-Linguistic Colexifications, reproducible analysis of cross-linguistic polysemies. DOI: 10.1038/s41597-019-0341-x. https://clics.clld.org/

Shi, X. Y. (2001). The morpheme meaning analysis of chū and jìn: A re-exploration on the basis of the interpretation of Modern Chinese Dictionary. Lexicography, 3, 60-66.

Talmy, L. (2000). Toward a cognitive semantics. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Wang, G. Q. (2005). Research on directional verbs. Beijing: Huaxia Press.

Wu, C. X. (1997). The use of the word chū on oracle bone inscriptions. Ancient Chinese Studies, 1, 29-31.

Wu, F. X. (2003). A typological study of grammaticalization of the comitative preposition in Chinese language. Studies of the Chinese Language, 1, 43-58.

Xi, Z. H., & Zhang, Z. X. (1990). Language Atlas of China (2nd Edition). Shanghai: The Commercial Press.

Zeng, C. L. (2009). The type and property of motion event in Chinese. Journal of Kashgar Teachers College, 4, 48-51.

Zhou, S. Y. (2018). History of Chinese words. Beijing: China Renmin University Press.



30. 01. 2024



Research articles

How to Cite

Kuang, L. (2024). A Colexficational Analysis of Chū in Modern Chinese. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 14(1), 37-54. https://doi.org/10.4312/ala.14.1.37-54

Funding data