Guo (2022), Diminutives at word level and root level: -er in Colloquial Beijing Mandarin
Diminutives at word level and root level: -er in Colloquial Beijing Mandarin
This article investigates the syntactic behaviours of the diminutive marker -er in Colloquial Beijing Mandarin. With -er linearly suffixed to different roots, er-diminutives vary in the compatibility with augmentative modifiers and the requirement of diminutive specification conveyed by additional roots. I propose a threefold analysis: (i) Semantically, -er has two possible functions, viz. restriction and selection. (ii) Syntactically, these two functions are realised at word level and root level, respectively. (iii) The reason why -er can occur at two different levels is that -er is an acategorial particle, lacking a formal feature, so it can merge with words and roots freely.