The Syntax of the Abstract-type Measurement Construction in Mandarin Chinese

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Abstract

This paper investigates a special sub-type of measurement construction in Mandarin Chinese, namely the [Num-measure word-de-N] construction where the N is an abstract dimension-denoting noun. Evidence is presented to show that the abstract-type [Num-measure word-de-N] should be fundamentally distinguished from the quantifying-/modifying-type [Num-measure word-de-N], in which the [Num-measure word] sequence serves to quantize/modify a semantically concrete, entity-denoting N. At the interpretive level, this paper claims that the abstracttype [Num-measure word-de-N] is semantically definite. At the syntactic level, a clausal analysis within the framework of the Predicate Inversion theory is pursued to account for the derivation of the abstract-type measurement construction. Last, it is proposed that the word order distinction between the Chinese abstracttype measurement construction, which is N-final, and its English counterpart, where the N linearly precedes [Num-measure word], can be explained in terms of a parametric variation with respect to the (non-)application of N-raising after Predicate Inversion.

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