I have been wondering for a few weeks about the different complement particles we have in in Hokkien and their respective functions and still find I am unsure about the differences between some of them.
To be more particular, I am talking about the particles which follow after a verb and link it to a complement (the role that in Mandarin is fulfilled by 得). Of course Hokkien, unlike Mandarin, possesses several of these which as far as I can see fulfill quite different functions, some of which I think I have grasped, while others are still somewhat unclear to me. So I would like to ask everybody’s opinion on this.
The ones that I can think of right now are:
1. “kah/kà” (MoE 甲): originially the same as “kàu” (到), and indeed sometimes still pronounced as “kàu”, this particle is used to express the extent of the verb. Bsp.:
- kiann kah beh sí (驚甲欲死) 'to be frightened so much (to the extent) that one almost dies'
- I kóng-ūe kóng kah ta̍k-ke lóng khùn--khì-ah. (伊講話講甲逐家攏睏去矣。) 'S/he talked so much (to the extent) that everybody fell asleep.'
2. “liáu” 了: The one I’m having the most trouble understanding. It often seems very close to the following “tio̍h” (著) in function (i.e. introducing a feeling induced by the action) but not always. I guess it’s probably closely related to the verbal suffix “liáu” ‘finished’, mostly for phonological reasons: Unlike “kah” or “tio̍h”, “liáu” is pronounced in standing tone, so a consruction like “x了y” might originally have meant something along the lines of “after (finishing) action x, action y occurred”. And sure enough, y often seems to be a result of x, but not always. Also, “tio̍h” and “hōo” express some sort of result as well, so is different about “liáu” then? Amhoanna once (here http://www.chineselanguage.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11484&p=86247&hilit=complement#p86247) described liáu to me as indicating performance (meaning I guess the way in which the action is performed?), which of course is completely different from the “after x, y occurs” interpretation but a lot of sentences fit this explanation very well, too (especially those which the “after” interpretation cannot explain). In any case, I usually have no trouble understanding what the sentence says, but I don’t feel comfortable using this particle because I don’t quite understand how. Some example sentences I have found:
- bē liáu bô siánn hó (賣了無啥好) 'doesn’t sell very well' (the “after” interpretation admittedly doesn’t make sense here)
- Hit king tshù khí liáu tsin suí. (彼間厝起了真媠。) 'They built this building to be very beautiful.'
3. “tio̍h” (著): Obviously related to the verb suffix which indicates a successful action. Maybe this construction originally meant “when x-ing, y occurs”. I couldn’t find a secondary source to confirm this, but according to my understanding, “tio̍h” indicates the a feeling that the verb induces, somewhat similar to 起來 in Mandarin (這件衣服穿起來很舒服 ect), although “tio̍h” can apparently also express a feeling of the speaker, not only the subject. Bsp.:
- Tsit niá siat-tsuh tshīng tio̍h tsin sù-sī (這領シャツ穿著真四序。) 'This shirt is very comfortable (to wear).'
- Lí tsit siú kua tshiùnn tio̍h tsiok hó-thiann--ê. (你這首歌唱著足好聽的。 'You sang this song very beautifully.' (I guess that in this case “liáu” could also be used, maybe even preferable?)
4. “hōo” (予): It might be disputable whether this one is already a particle or still a causative suffix. I would argue that in those cases where it occurs in standing tone (or as an alternative interpretation, as “hoo” and in running tone, i.e. when it is a contraction of “hōo-i” (予伊)), it is at least on the best way of becoming a particle. Either way, its function is rather straightforward: it expresses a state that the object assumes as a result of the verb action. Bsp.:
- sé hōo tshing-khì (洗予(伊)清氣) 'to wash until it is clean'
- kóng hōo tshing-tshó (講予(伊)清楚) 'to make clear, to tell in all clarity'
I guess they may function somewhat differently in other regions (afaik “liáu” in particular seems to be much more in use as a perfective particle in Malaysia, I suspect that might affect its use as a particle which introduces complements?) Happy to hear your opinions.
Best wishes from Taipei,
EDIT: Just asked my teacher again, according to her feeling I got the meaning of "tio̍h" about right, it is indeed used to indicate a feeling invoked by the action. However, apparently the definition of "feeling" here is broader than I thought, so I would rather use the word "impression" now. E.g. "I sé-sann sé tio̍h tsin kín." (伊洗衫洗著真緊。) 'S/he does his/her laundry very quickly." In this sentence, tio̍h introduces the manner in which the action is performed, but it is a subjective impression, not an objective description. Also, the use of this particle seems to imply habitual action. S/he always does the laundry quickly, not just right now.
On "liáu" she said that it introduces a manner or result of the action. It apparently tends to imply more objectivity and, most importantly, is used for single actions. E.g. "I kin-á-ji̍t sé sann sé liáu pí phóo-thong-sî khah kín." (伊今仔日洗衫洗了比普通時較緊。) 'S/he did the laundry more quickly than usually today.'