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Parameter Preservation at the Syntax-PF Interface: The Ba Construction Revisited

Abstract

In this paper, I argue for an analysis that treats the ba construction in Chinese as a case of shape preservation-induced movement structure. Specifically, the robust preverbal adverbial and PP expressions and the mandatory ba-DP movement in ditransitive structures are both derived from a violable head directionality macroparameter under the Symmetrical Syntax Hypothesis, which allows directionality parameters to examine word order throughout the derivation. In addition to being able to capture the parallel syntactic properties of Scandinavian object shift, this account receives further empirical support from word order facts of Archaic Chinese and Bambara.

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Shén (神) in Modern Chinese

Abstract

In modern Chinese, a new degree adverb shén 神 is emerging. Expressions such as shénhăochī 神好吃 and shényǒuqù 神有趣 are found in colloquial Chinese, and they even appear as headlines to get readers’ attention. Shén originally refers to the dominator and creator of the universe. In modern Chinese, along with the original meaning, people frequently use shén to modify things (e.g., shén jīyīn 神基因) or actions (e.g., shén huí 神回). How many senses does shén have? How did shén derive the use of degree adverb? The paper targets on shén in modern Chinese, aiming to study its senses, to work out the relations among the various usages, and to find out how it generated the use of degree adverb. The conclusion shows that the senses of shén were derived from its original meaning either directly or indirectly through reanalysis, inference, metaphorization, and metonymization. The use of degree adverb was generated through metaphorization and reanalysis.

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Chinese Motion-Directional Construction: A Conceptual and Cognitive Analysis

Abstract

This article proposes an analysis of the Motion-Directional Construction in Chinese in the Conceptual-Cognitive approach as outlined by Jackendoff and Langacker. This article first argues that the Motion-Directional Construction consists of conceptual subordination, expressing different mental spaces. Then, it examines the syntactic and semantic behaviors of the construction arguing that it is more like a constructional idiom. In particular, we discuss the case of pa ‘climb’ and generalize further that the motion verbs in Chinese typically express manners of movement. Within the Conceptual Semantics, we argue that a level of grammatical relation may not be necessary; it is the argument and conceptual structures that we need in the cognitive structure. Finally, we present the data and suggest the typological relevance of the Motion-Directional Construction.

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

Abstract

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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Sluicing, Sprouting and Missing Objects

Abstract

Taking “sluicing” to be derived by movement + deletion, as represented by Merchant (2001), and “pseudo-sluicing” to be a base-generated structure [pro (+be) + wh] (going by Wei 2004; Adams 2004), this paper reviews arguments for and against the presence of a sluicing construction in Mandarin Chinese. We show that all the tests available in the literature do not argue against the presence of such a sluicing construction, except the test building on the distribution of the copula shi. Unfortunately, the shi test is demonstrated to be uncertain and it cannot be used to argue conclusively that only a base-generation pseudo-sluicing analysis should be adopted. We show that a much clear evidence for an exclusive pseudo-sluicing analysis comes from the behavior of the sprouting construction. Investigation of sprouting also sheds light on the properties of null arguments, topic-variable relation, locality, and subcategorization of verbs in the language.

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A Note on Reference to Kinds in Mandarin: the N-leikind Compound

Abstract

This squib examines a special kind-referring expression in Mandarin Chinese, the N-leikind compound. We show that like Mandarin bare nouns, N-leikind compounds also denote kinds, but they can only be instantiated by sets of (sub) kind entities at type <k, t>, and not sets of individuals at type <e, t>. Specifically, those kind entities belong to basic-level categories in some folk taxonomy. We claim that N-lei is the nominalization counterpart of the classifier phrase lei-N, and it denotes superkinds, which are instantiated by sets of subkind entities. Accordingly, Mandarin bare nouns are comparable to bare plurals in English, whereas N-lei is comparable to definite singulars in English.

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

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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You Sluice and hai Modification in Chinese

Abstract

This paper argues that you ‘have’ sluice is a variant of pseudosluicing, akin to shi ‘be’ sluice in Chinese. You sluice can be analyzed as a base-generated structure [pro you ‘have’ wh-phrase], consisting of a subject pro, a verb you ‘have’, and a wh-phrase, having nothing to do with movement and deletion. In this simple clause, the pro can either refer to a nominal antecedent or an event antecedent; you ‘have’ mainly denotes possessive or existential readings as well as extended attributive uses. This analysis further reveals how circum-phrase chule … yiwei ‘besides’ semantically and syntactically interacts with hai ‘still’ in you sluice to express else modification in English sluicing derived by movement and deletion.

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Intonation and Particles as Speech Act Modifiers: A Syntactic Analysis

Abstract

This study investigates how discourse particles and intonation contribute to the modification of speech act. In particular, it focuses on the interplay between the speaker’s and the addressee’s commitment toward the proposition in assertions, biased questions, and requests for confirmation. A syntactic analysis is proposed, in which speaker commitment and call on addressee are represented as two functional projections of the speech act structure. Data from nontonal (Canadian English) and tonal languages (Cantonese and Medumba) are analyzed for cross-linguistic comparison. In Canadian English, the particle “eh” and rising intonation are associated with speaker commitment and call on addressee, respectively. In Cantonese, a single particle associates with these. In Medumba, the two positions are occupied by two distinct particles. This neo-performative approach toward speech act structure differs from Ross’s 1970 original insight by positing a high functional layer called grounding, rather than a higher matrix clause of the familiar type.

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Raising or Lowering?—A Case Study of Alethic ACQ in Chinese and Southeast Asian Languages

Abstract

The present paper proposes a morphological lowering analysis for the structure associated with alethic ACQ, a postverbal morpheme capable of denoting the modality of ability and possibility in Chinese as well as many Southeast Asian languages. Built in the framework of distributed morphology, we suggest that ACQ is base-generated in a preverbal node as a modal element and lowers to a postverbal position during its derivation on the PF branch. We compare and contrast the proposed lowering account with the other model of analysis, the raising analysis, and demonstrate that the lowering account is superior both conceptually and empirically.

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