Remarks on the Final-over-Final Condition: A View from Chinese Head-Final Structures

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The paper discusses the universality of the final-over-final condition (FOFC). It has been proposed that sentence-final particles (SFPs) in Chinese may invalidate the universality of FOFC. This paper argues that the challenge from SFPs is inconclusive since the evidence for the head status of SFPs is lacking. On the other hand, the leftward complement of N0 in Chinese (Huang 2016) poses a greater threat to FOFC. However, it is argued that the violation is caused by a language-particular word order constraint due to Case directionality (Li 1990). Relating the syntactic FOFC violation to the word order constraint in compounds, it is proposed that FOFC may be understood as an instance of the shape conservation principle (Williams 2003), where the language-particular constraint is satisfied at the expense of a minimal violation of the universal condition.

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