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Abstract

In this paper, the lexical semantics of the pre-modal verb 得 and its development into a modal auxiliary will be discussed. Two different positions are available for the modal , the default preverbal position of modal auxiliary verbs and a post-verbal position. The analysis of the event and the argument structure of the lexical verb reveals that the different modal uses of originate from its functions as an achievement verb. In this regard, clearly differs from the other verbs of possibility in Late Archaic Chinese. The particular syntacto-semantic constraints of can account for its development into both a modal auxiliary verb, and for the particular functions it develops in the Modern Sinitic languages as a postverbal modal marker.

Lingua sinica
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Abstract

In Mandarin Chinese, the string of three overt elements in a row, a locative, a verb, and a nominal, asserts the existence of the entity denoted by the nominal in the location. This paper argues that the verb is contained in an adjunct, whereas the locative in its base position and the nominal establish a matrix predication relation. Thus, instead of the overt verb, the head of the matrix predicate of the construction is null. Moreover, a new analysis is provided to explain the obligatory argument sharing between the verb and the matrix predication of the construction. Furthermore, the paper argues that the agent of a transitive verb in certain types of embedded clauses needs to be Case-licensed by either the v of the selecting verb, as in an ECM construction, or a local c-commanding functional element, such as a complementizer, as in the English infinitive for construction. This Case-licensing explains why the transitive verb in the string has no agent. The research shows that the syntactic strategies to license abstract Cases in Chinese are similar to the ones found in other languages. Finally, the paper argues that the post-verbal -zhe is an adessive marker when it occurs in a non-progressive context.

Abstract

In the literature about processing of relative clauses (RCs), subject relatives (SRs) are reported to be easier than object relatives (ORs) in a number of languages, but the status of prenominal ORs in languages where the object follows the verb (SVO) is still partly controversial. This study explores the production of RCs in Cantonese in two elicited production experiments and two corpus studies. In the first elicited experiment, an overwhelming preference for SRs was observed. In two corpus studies where the context and the feature of arguments were uncontrolled, the reverse pattern was observed. In order to reconcile the two datasets, we speculate that what counts in object dependencies is the featural endowment of the subject, as in the intervention hypothesis implemented in Friedmann et al. 2009. A second elicited experiment was run to test this hypothesis. The results suggest that production of RCs in Cantonese displays a subject preference in general and that object dispreference is modulated by featural mismatch.

Abstract

In this paper, I first introduce what inalienable possession structure (IPS) is cross-linguistically as well as how to form an IPS in Mandarin Chinese, i.e., pronoun + body part or kinship term, etc. With the help of postverbal IPS, I relate the lack of plural pronominal possessor in IPS, which is never discussed in the literature, to the prohibition of distributivity over distributivity, i.e., the semantic anomaly of distributive plural possessor over the stubborn distributivity inherent to Chinese IPS nouns. I also argue that the requirement of a plural pronominal possessor seen in the IPS of public places, spatial directions, and professional titles is a result of stubborn collectivity shared by these nouns. In the end, I discuss the association between the distinction of inalienable and alienable nouns and that of active and stative verbs.

Abstract

One controversy in the study of the Chinese shenme ‘what’-based rhetorical question (shenme-RQ for short) is how it takes on a negative interpretation. This paper attempts to apply enthymeme or rhetorical syllogism to the deduction of negative meaning of the shenme-RQ. Triggered by the shenme-RQ, or one of its words or phrases, the hearer extracts the explicit premise, fills in the premise that is implicit either in the context or in her or his encyclopedic knowledge, and deduces the conclusion, the negative meaning of the shenme-RQ. According to what premises are left out, the paper also explores the deduction patterns of the negative meaning of shenme-RQs and proposes a procedure for obtaining the negative interpretation. That said, the negative meaning of the shenme-RQ will be entrenched in the mind of its users and conventionalized in the Mandarin Chinese community via repeated use.

Abstract

Based on original data collected through an online experiment, evidence is provided in this paper that the interpretation of null subjects in a radical pro-drop language like Chinese relies on the topic criterion proposed for consistent and partial pro-drop languages (Frascarelli 2007 and Frascarelli 2018), thereby supporting the theory that the null subject parameter implies an information-structural strategy for interpretation. Nevertheless, radical Chinese shows specificities that must be integrated in this theory for a comprehensive account. In particular, even though silent topic can start chains (consistent with the topic criterion), data show a significant preference for overt and local topics as antecedents. This locality requirement thus integrates phonological visibility in a general syntactic condition (minimal overt link condition), proposing an interesting parallel with the properties shown by partial pro-drop languages (Frascarelli and Jimenez-Fernandez in press). The present investigation also contributes to outline the structural differences existing between adverbial clauses in Chinese, supporting a distinction between central and peripheral adverbial clauses (Haegeman 2012). Specifically, while temporal and conditional clauses show the properties of nonrestrictive relative clauses, this is not the case for concessive clauses, which merged as subordinate clauses in either the C-domain or the high split-TP area. Differences between temporal and conditional clauses are attributed to the presence of an overt operator in the latter, and the pre-matrix position of adverbial clauses is explained in the light of their discourse role as frame-setters (Krifka 2007).

Abstract

Previous research findings have established that a number of nonlinguistic factors can influence the strength of perceived foreign accent in second language (L2) speech. However, the majority of past studies have predominantly considered foreign accent of Indo-European languages, notably English. Therefore, it remains unknown whether the same factors influence foreign accent in other languages, such as Mandarin. This article reports findings from a study on nonlinguistic factors affecting the degree of foreign accent in Mandarin as an L2. Seventy L2 learners of Mandarin Chinese recorded speech samples and completed language background questionnaires. Speech samples were rated by 15 native Mandarin speakers for the degree of foreign accent on a 9-point Likert scale. Stepwise multiple regression analysis resulted in a 3-predictor model of pronunciation accuracy: self-rating of foreign accent, Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì (HSK) proficiency level, and motivational reasons. Results suggest that (1) foreign accent in L2 Mandarin may not be affected by the same factors as in previous L2 accent studies and (2) the concepts of accentedness and comprehensibility may be more intricately linked in lexical tone languages such as Mandarin, in comparison to nontonal languages. These findings have wider implications for the field of L2 acquisition, which is dominated by studies of L2 English.

Abstract

This paper analyzes the syntactic properties of the “ba-construction” or “disposal form” in Mandarin Chinese under new theoretical frameworks. By introducing the event-decomposition method proposed by Ramchand (2008), it argues that the ba-construction conveys the causativity and the resultativity of the event at the same time, which can be shown from the syntactic representation. Then, this paper tests the position of ba, assuming that it is a functional head, and the result of the test indicates that ba is a voice head in the hierarchy of functional projections proposed by Cinque (1999, 2006). The final word order of a ba-construction can be derived by the argument movement of the direct object and by a head movement of ba or by the merge of ba at the head position of the higher functional head of a split VoiceP.

Abstract

Erlewine (2017) suggests that certain sentence-final particles (SFPs) in Mandarin Chinese such as “sentential le” and eryi are located lower than the C-domain, using a number of arguments relating to the scopal interaction of these SFPs, subjects, and other verb phrase (vP) level elements. The present paper proposes an alternative view of the phenomena considered by Erlewine (2017) and maintains the claim that sentential le and eryi are C-domain elements. First, I argue that shi ‘be’, in the negative form – bu shi ‘not be’ – should be analyzed as an independent verb, which takes a clausal complement headed by le or eryi. The apparent narrow scope of le and eryi is due to the biclausal analysis of the entire sentence. Second, the sentence-initial determiner phrase (DP) cannot be analyzed as the real subject of the verb shi ‘be’ but must be analyzed as the matrix topic of the entire sentence and, therefore, is higher than the complementizer phrase (CP) headed by le or eryi. This explains why sometimes le or eryi does not have scope over the subject. Third, the wh-subject cannot get an indefinite reading in a sentence with a final particle le because the ∃-closure triggered by le applies at the I′-level by excluding the subject systematically (Huang 1982). The ∃-quantifier, which is introduced in a position lower than the surface subject position, cannot bind the wh-subject as a variable. The position where ∃ is generated remains independent of whether the ∃-closure is triggered by low particles, such as le, or by high particles, such as the yes–no question particle ma. Therefore, the low peripheral particles le and eryi are still within the CP domain and thus higher than vP.