Verbs of Command and the Status of Their Embedded Complements in Chinese

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Abstract

This paper argues against Yue’s (1999) view that complements to verbs of commands (jiao ‘to ask/to tell,’ qing ‘to request,’ quan ‘to persuade,’ etc.) are embedded imperatives with a covert [+second person] subject pronoun. Evidence against the embedded imperative analysis include the presence of partial control, the absence of blocking effect in long-distance binding, the incompatibility between these complement clauses and the polite imperative marker qing, and the fact that Yue’s proposed covert [+second person] pronoun cannot be made overt. Since verbs of commands participate in object control, the present proposal agrees with Zhu’s (1982) treatment of verbs of command as pivotal verbs. Finally, complement clauses of verbs of command are not embedded imperatives as bie can also appear with third person subjects, which shows that the negator does not mark imperative but irrealis and deontic modality. Hence, its presence in complements of verbs of command does not lead to an embedded imperative analysis.

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