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How did卩 (kneeling) semantically shift to mean 卻 — 1. reject, decline? 2. but, yet, still, however; while?


scherzo
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I understand how kneeling semantically shifted to retreating or stepping back — because even nowadays, Catholics must genuflect before entering, and before exiting, a pew. Mass Etiquette

 

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This order is important because upon leaving the pew, we are required to genuflect in the direction of the location of the tabernacle, where Christ’s true presence remains always. When one leaves the pew, one should not be confronted with people walking toward one as one genuflects!

 

But please expound these 2 further semantic shifts. I'm befuddled more than usual, because 卻's Syntactic Category shifted here too —  from being a verb to a conjunction! How can kneeling semantically appertain to "but, yet, still, however; while"???

 

漢字源流 | 中華語文知識庫. I screenshot CUHK below.

 

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此字始見於戰國文字。戰國文字、篆文、楷書字形都是從卩,卩是人跪坐之形,表示與人的行動有關;?聲(音ㄐㄧㄝˊ,本義為口上之阿曲處,今人稱為上腭),表示音讀。以字形容易跟「郤」混淆,俗寫改從「去」字做「却」。在六書中屬於形聲。

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  • scherzo changed the title to How did卩 (kneeling) semantically shift to mean 卻 — 1. reject, decline? 2. but, yet, still, however; while?
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The first one is pretty obvious if you know the so-called 使动用法.

Intransitive 却=退. No problem here right?

And here's the transitive use:

退兵=使兵退

却敌=使敌却

 

The second shift (from 实词 to 虚词) is also very common. A parallel can be found in 倒 dào. It is used to express mild concession or objection. Nothing special.

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The first one is pretty obvious if you know the so-called 使动用法.

 

1. What's the linguistics term in English for '使動用法'? I understand it a tad, from reading https://baike.sogou.com/v7544798.htm, https://www.easyatm.com.tw/wiki/使動用法 .

 

2. Can you please elaborate the n2nd semantic shift? Where does the sense of "mild concession or objection" hail from?

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1) I don't know if there's an English term for it. A lone Wikipedia article I found on Classical Chinese grammar simply calls it shǐdòng usage. And as you may already know, it covers nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

But in the case of a verb, they do have a name. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causative_alternation. In the article only Modern Mandarin is discussed. But Classical Chinese is a different language, in which, for example, 老张破窗而入 is perfectly grammatical. So 破 was (and still is to some extent, ever heard of 破壁机? 破冰船? 破甲弹?) an ergative verb.

 

2) The word 'concession' ultimately comes from Latin com- (intensifier) + cēdere (to yield). Oftentimes when you say "blah blah blah but...", you're actually signaling a verbal concession: You make peace first with your interlocutor. You accept a premise (instead of outright denying it) while ready to reject its natural conclusion (that if A is true, B must also be true). Think over it and see if you can find similarities between the action of 'stepping back' and the pragmatics of 'but, yet, still, however'.

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