kā vs. chiong

Both and chiong can be used, from what I understand, to move the object of a verb to the pre-verbal position (I suppose it's usually done when expressing commands (?)). What's the difference between these two "disposal markers"?

(I know that can also be used to mark the patient/goal/source and maybe something else (whereas chiong can't -- correct me if I'm wrong) but I was wondering about the difference between the "purely disposal" and chiong.)


From what I understand, both 共(和) and 將 tsiong (chiong) functions much the same in the case of what you were asking. (I am not a professional linguistic, so I am not sure how to describe it.)

For example,

  • I kā gúa bē-kì-tit. / I tsiong gúa bē-kì-tit. [He forgot me.]

However, can be much more useful when compared to tsiong as the following example cannot be swapped with tsiong:

  • Lí kā gúa kò-âi! [Get over here!]

  • Gúa kā lí kóng. [Let me tell you something.]

  • Kā i tàu-sann-kāng. [Help him (with his work).]


Probably kā is much more common as well.


Yes indeed, is much more common and useful compared to tsiong.

Can sentences like the one below be ambiguous?

Góa kā lí bé.

I suppose there might be 2 readings: "I'll buy (it) for you" and "I'll buy (it) from you (you're the seller)".

Or: Góa chiah kā lí mn̄g. Can this mean both "I'll ask you (about it)" and "I'll ask (it) for you"?

Yes. Both sentences are ambiguous.


I suppose it's more common in the younger generation? I'm watching one 70+ old speaker on youtube, and he uses "chiong" very frequently, often in combination with kā (in one sentence). I found this in Lin's book:

"將 chiong is a preposition from the literary register of Taiwanese with a similar grammatical function
to 共 kā. While 將 chiong is not restricted to pronouns, the usage tends to focus on inanimate objects.
A distinction between 共 kā for people and pronouns and 將 chiong for objects was traditionally made.
However, many speakers no longer strictly uphold this distinction."


Yes, both examples can be ambiguous, so usually a reader or listener has to judge the meaning for the previous or/and next sentences.

In this case, probably "將" could be a classical word/usage, I supposed.


I said to someone "chit tiuⁿ siòng-phìⁿ góa kā lí hip" with the intended meaning of "I took this photo (of something) for you", and I was told that the proper way to express this is "chit tiuⁿ siòng-phìⁿ sī góa hip hō͘ lí khòaⁿ--ê".

So are there some verbs (like "hip") that block in some sense the benefactive reading of kā? Or is my sentence also acceptable, but the second is more natural?

Chit-tiuⁿ siòng-phìⁿ sī góa kā lí hip--ê.

I thought the "X sī Y--ê" construction is the emphatic version of "X Y" (in my example, X=Chit-tiuⁿ siòng-phìⁿ, Y=góa kā lí hip). Like "It was me who took this picture for you". Do you mean in this case only "X sī Y--ê" is grammatical, but "X Y" isn't?

Oh, and I was also told that "chit tiuⁿ siòng-phìⁿ góa kā lí hip" means "I took a photo of you".

chit tiuⁿ siòng-phìⁿ góa kā lí hip
I will help you with taking this photo.

Tâi-gí has this construct of moving the O of a V to the front of the sentence. When parsing, this rule usually takes precedence.

chit tiuⁿ siòng-phìⁿ góa kā lí hip --> góa kā lí hip chit tiuⁿ siòng-phìⁿ

And therefore that is what it means. That sī changes the verb of the sentence from hip to sī.

chit tiuⁿ siòng-phìⁿ sī góa kā lí hip--ê -/-> sī góa kā lí hip--ê chit tiuⁿ siòng-phìⁿ

Thus breaking the ambiguity.


Che saⁿ siuⁿ tōa.

No verb. Thus no moving around of O. It then implies a verb of sī.

Questionable. If true, CHIONG would've been real common back in the day. "Evidence" suggests KĀ (& KĀNG) was always more common than CHIONG for most speakers.

ÂNG Î-JÎN laid out this simplistic distinction between KĀ & CHIONG in a brief "mini-grammar" of Tâi. Another deep Tâi speaker with some grounding in linguistics told me he doubts this was ever true. More likely CHIONG (but not KĀ) used to be restricted in some dialects. Note that *CHIANG is rarely if ever used this way — anomalous.


Weirong Chen mentions (in "A Grammar of Southern Min: The Hui'an Dialect") that in Hui'an, the NP that follows kā is "normally encoded by a personal pronoun [...] rather by a noun" (p.305) and cites Lien 2002 (see the full citation below), who says that the patient introduced by kā is typically pronominal in Taiwanese.

From Lien 2002:

[...] Its counterpart in modern Southern Min, viz. Kang7 or ka7, is associated in
most cases with pronouns or traces. It cannot be followed by noun phrases,
especially those denoting inanimate objects. Chiong1 將 is used, instead,
in such a situation. It is interesting that chiong1 將 and ka7 共 can cooccur in the disposal construction in which the latter can only take a
personal pronoun or a trace as its head.

The important feature of ka7 共 in modern Southern Min is that whatever semantic roles it takes on it almost always takes a pronoun rather than an ordinary noun. This unique feature has its historical root as evidenced in Li4 Jing4 Ji4 荔鏡記.

[...] By contrast, the elements preceded by ka7 共 must by pronouns mostly referring to
humans, animals or even inanimate entities especially when merging as a
resumptive pronoun or a trace. This unique constraint is a continuation or
rather a legacy inherited from the earlier stage of kang7 共.

It should be noted, however, that the lifting of such a pronominal
restriction on the ka7 共 construction as witnessed in the speech of younger
generation in Taiwanese Southern Min is a contact-induced change brought
about by the all-abiding influence of the ba3 把 construction in Mandarin
(Cheng 1998).

I suppose Cheng's 1998 paper is in Mandarin, and unforunately I can't read it.

Chen, Weirong, 2020. A Grammar of Southern Min: The Hui’an Dialect (Vol. 3). Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG.

Lien, Chinfa. 2002. Grammatical function words 乞,度,共,甲,将 and 力 in Li4 Jing4 Ji4 荔
镜记 and their development in Southern Min. In Dah-an Ho (ed.), 179-216.

Cheng, Robert L. 1998. Tongyiyu xianxiang zai Tai Hua duiyi ciku li de chuli wenti: Tiaojian he cucheng jiegou [Synonymous expressions in Taiwanese-Mandarin corpora: Conditional and causative constructions]. Selected Papers from the Second International Symposium on
Languages in Taiwan, ed. by Shuanfan Huang, 529-564. Taipei: The Crane Publishing Co.

Che kán-ná ū lí ŏ͘! M̄-koh kó͘-chá Chiuⁿ-phó͘-gí kám ū chit ê iok-sok? Góa sió-khóa giâu-gî.

Why is the first sentence ungrammatical (as claimed in Shou-hsin Teng's paper "Disposal structures in Amoy") but the second (from Maryknoll's book) is grammatical?

*Tiān-iáⁿ bē-bái, lí khì kā khòaⁿ.

Lí ê chheh góa ū khòaⁿ--kìⁿ, tān-sī góa bô kā khòaⁿ.