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Research Seminar : "Can we keep only the lowest copy? The case of Mandarin sentence initail dou c...
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Topic:  Research Seminar : "Can we keep only the lowest copy? The case of Mandarin sentence initail dou construction"
posted itemPosted - 07/12/2007 :  10:43:57
City University of Hong Kong Dep

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Research Seminar

Can we keep only the lowest copy? The case of Mandarin sentence initial dou construction

Presented by

Linda Badan

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, City University of Hong Kong

Date: 7 July 2008, Monday
Time: 4:30pm - 6:00pm
B7603 (Lift 3, 7/F, Blue Zone), Academic Building, CityU


Beside the canonical and widely discussed even-construction lian...dou in (1), a sentence like (2) also yields the even-(and already) reading (Pan & Jiang 2008): (1) Zhangsan lian  zhe ben shu   dou mei kan  guo.   Zhangsan even this CL book  all  not read EXP   “Zhangsan didn’t read even this book.” (2) Dou     da xuesheng    le.   All university students ASP   (To one`s surprise) “(You are) even/already an university student!” In this paper I aim to provide an analysis to the sentence initial dou construction in Mandarin Chinese, and argue that it is possible to only realize the lower copy in a chain at PF under the Minimalist Program. Chomsky (1993, 1995) proposes that a moved element leaves behind a copy of itself, rather than a coindexed trace. Only the highest copy, i.e. the head of a non-trivial chain in the landing site of movement, is spelled out, whereas the lower copy is deleted at PF, though it is still available for interpretation at LF. In this research I will follow the developments by Nunes (2004) Nunes and Corver (2007) (see also Bobaljik 1995, 2002; Brody 1995; Franks 1998; Boskovic 2001, 2001, 2004a), who argue that there is a choice at PF in determining which copy of a chain survives deletion. They show that the realization of a copy can also be determined by conditions of the phonological component and not by syntactic movement per se. It is possible to phonetically realize not only the highest copy, but also a lower one or, with a marker in the sentence, sometimes even the lowest one (Reintges 2007). Following this proposal I analyze the syntactic and semantic variation of the different possible structures of (internal) lian..dou construction. I propose that the superficial word order and the even-reading of the sentence initial dou actually reflects a movement of a VP to produce a lian..dou sentence with the VP in focus, and it represents a case in which the system chooses the phonetic realization of only the lowest copy in the relevant chain. I argue that the realization of the lowest copy is due to dou`s verbal features requirement (Cheng 1995) and to a restriction on the VP when it appears between lian and dou: it has to be bare; it cannot have any modal, negation, or aspectual markers. Hence, the only way to generate a sentence like (2) from a lian VP dou sentence is to keep the lower copy and delete the higher copy in order to satisfy dou's verbal requirement and observe the restriction on the VP embraced by lian...dou. The case of the initial dou construction is particularly interesting for the development of the copy theory since it shows that it is possible to phonetically realize only the lowest copy of the chain at PF, without any other marker within the sentence. In sum, my research presents different realizations of the lian..dou construction giving an analysis that accounts for their syntactic derivation combined with their semantic readings, and supports the claim that it is possible to only realize the lowest copy in a chain at PF.


Linda Badan received her PhD in General Linguistics from the University of Padua (Italy). She is currently Senior Research Associate at the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics. Her research focuses on issues related to the syntax and semantics of Topic and Focus construction in Mandarin Chinese and Romance languages.

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