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Abstract

The exact nature and derivation of patient-subject constructions (PSC) in Chinese are still at dispute in literature. Based on the restriction of manner adverbial modification and the nonexistence of the manner reading of zenme ‘how’ observed in Chinese PSC, a morphosyntactic analysis has been provided. We argue that the seeming action verb V in PSC is not a real main verb, but a verbal root to be introduced into the derivation after syntax via external morphological merger. The real main verb of PSC in syntax is a covert light verb ∅BEC, which selects a nominal phrase (NP) as its specifier (Spec) and a resultative phrase (RP) as its complement. BECP is further selected by an aspect (Asp) head le. To satisfy the extended projection principle (EPP), the NP at [Spec, BECP] moves to the [Spec, TP] in syntax. After syntax, the resultative (R) head-moves to ∅BEC at the phonological form (PF) to satisfy the phonological requirement of ∅BEC, forming R-∅BEC; then, a bare verbal root merges with R-∅BEC at PF to denote the manner of the change of state. Due to the phonological requirement of le, V-R-∅BEC head-moves to le, producing the right order of PSC. The two elided forms of PSC can be derived similarly. This research suggests that covert light verbs and morphology may play an interactive role in the derivation of some “typical” constructions in Chinese.

Abstract

This article proposes a pro analysis for split questions (SQs) in Chinese, dissimilar to the biclausal account employing focus movement and deletion in Arregi 2010 and the one employing the silent head in Kayne 2015 and Tang 2015. SQ consists of a wh-clause and a tag clause. We argue that the entire SQ is an information/confirmation-seeking question, represented by a Speech Act Phrase (SAP)-shell structure (Speas and Tenny 2003; Oguro 2017, etc.) with wh-clause in its specifier and the tag in its complement. The tag of Chinese SQ is a base-generated clause, [pro (copula) tag ma/ne], composed of an empty subject pro, an optional copula, a tag, and a final particle, instead of being derived from a fully-fledged structure parallel to the wh-part akin to those of English and Spanish SQs. Such a pro analysis overcomes difficulties encountered in the other accounts regarding the distribution of the final particles and their clause-typing, the optionality of the copula, the ubiquitous uses of tag, the connectivity effects, and the island-insensitivity. Analytically, two seeming variants of SQ imply that the derivation of an SQ depends on whether its tag moves and whether a copula exists.

Abstract

This paper analyzes verb reduplication in Mandarin Chinese under a lexicalist framework. By adopting the Lexicalist Hypothesis proposed by Chomsky (1970), a distinction has been made between syntactic and morphological verb reduplications by means of five tests: productivity, le insertion, categorial stability, transitivity, and input/output constraints. It is found that the AA and ABAB patterns of verb reduplication have relatively high productivity and regular syntactic behaviors, whereas the AABB pattern of verb reduplication shows extremely low productivity and syntactic idiosyncrasy. Given these observations, this paper proposes that the AA and ABAB patterns should be syntactic verb reduplications derived at the syntactic level, whereas the AABB pattern should be morphological verb reduplication formed in the lexicon. The two types of verb reduplications have different generative mechanisms.

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 , 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 , ). 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.