Author: Zhang, Qingwen
Title: On the syntax of non-verbal predication in Mandarin Chinese
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2009
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Mandarin dialects -- Pronunciation
Grammar, Comparative and general -- Syntax
Nonverbal communication
Department: Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: viii, 245 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Abstract: The central issue of this study is nominal predication in Mandarin Chinese, which specifically refers to the construction composed of a subject and a nominal predicate without the intervention of a copula. Based on Davidson’s (1967) event theory, especially the neo-Davidsonian event theory (Parsons 1990; Chierchia 1995, among many others), which claims that each sentence is endowed with a Davidsonian event/state argument, this study intends to give a unified account to the copulaless nominal predication construction in Mandarin Chinese, i.e., the grammaticality of the nominal predicate construction is dependent on whether the Davidsonian argument is visible or not. Three types of nominal predicate constructions are examined, namely, the constructions whose predicates are temporal/locative nominals, modified noun phrases and possessive noun phrases. The three types of copulaless nominal predication constructions, distinctive as their syntactic manifestations are, have one thing in common: the Davidsonian argument has to be realized via assorted morpho-syntactic devices. To be specific, the Davidsonian argument of the temporal/locative nominal predicate construction is articulated by means of the spelt-out of the spatio-temporal argument; The realization of the Davidsonian argument of the modified nominal predication construction is dependent on the occurrence of non-intersective modifiers; The possessive nominal predicate construction takes advantage of the interplay between the temporal argument in the matrix clause and that of the possessive DP. By examination to the nominal predication construction in Mandarin Chinese, it is revealed that nominal predication is parallel to verbal predication in that both of them require the visibility of the Davidsonian argument. Furthermore, it suggests that nominal predication in Mandarin Chinese is no different from English nominal predication. The only distinction between Mandarin Chinese and English lies in their different strategies to realize the Davidsonian argument: English puts all the workload on the spelt-out of tense, while Chinese tends to take advantage of different morpho-syntactic ways so long as the Davidsonian argument can be made visible. This indicates that nominal predication in Chinese is not language particular.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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