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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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A Case of V2 in Chinese

Abstract

As far as the left periphery is concerned, there is a conspiracy between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics to ensure the success of sentence formation. We would like to put forth the claim that peripheral features play an important role in this endeavor, which can be checked by either Merge or Move according to the parameter-settings of individual languages. Along this line, topic prominence can be regarded as the result of peripheral feature checking, and the null topic hypothesis à la Huang (1984) is reinvented as a null operator merger to fulfill interface economy in the left periphery. In this regard, Chinese provides substantial evidence from obligatory topicalization in outer affectives, evaluatives, and refutory wh-constructions, which applies only when the licensing from a D(efiniteness)-operator is blocked. The idea also extends naturally to the issues concerning pro-drop and bare nominals in general. In this light, we may well compare Chinese obligatory topicalization to those residual cases of verb-second (V2) in English, all being manifestation of the strong uniformity.

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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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Derivation of the Apparent Narrow Scope of Sentence-Final Particles in Chinese: A Reply to Erlewine (2017)

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.

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