A DATA SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF TRANSITIVIZATION IN CHINESE
Wei-Tien Dylan Tsai, Ching-Yu Helen Yang, Chen Ying-Zhu, Jhih-Jie Chen, and Jason S. Chang
From the perspective of data science, this study aims to investigate an emerging phenomenon called "transitivization" in Mandarin Chinese. It is a syntactic change that turns a preverbal applicative argument into a postverbal direct object. This process can be viewed as a "renaissance" wei dong shi 'beneficiary verb form' in Classical Chinese. It may either die out after a short period of time, or have an explosive growth in its popularity just like the so-called "language cancer" recently observed in Taiwan. Therefore, we need to address the issues by combining data science and syntactic analyses. This move enables us not only to give a comprehensive review of the current status of this syntactic change, but also to make a plausible prediction about its future development. Finally, it is instructive to note that transitivization is found only in certain stylistic registers like news headlines, which in turn allows us to look deeper into the pragmatic considerations and underlying mechanism of the whole process.