City University of Hong Kong Dep
Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Research Degree Forum
A Focus-based Approach to Postverbal Phrases in Mandarin Chinese
Miss YAO Shuiying
PhD candidate for linguistics, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, City University of Hong Kong
Date: 12 August 2009, Wednesday
Time: 3:30 - 4:30pm
Venue: B7603 (7/F, Blue Zone), Academic Building, CityU
Traditionally, the postverbal elements in Mandarin Chinese are unified with a term of ‘buyu’, which semantically fall into three subtypes: duration/frequency, descriptive and resultative, as indicated in following 1-3, respectively:
1). Ta pao-le liang-ci/yitian he run-asp two-time/day He ran twice/for one day (duration/frequency)
2). Ta pao-de hen kuai he run-DE very fast He runs fast (descriptive)
3). Ta yijing pao-de hen lei le he already run-DE very tired asp He has been very tired after running (resultative)
However, as to their syntactic status, no consensus has been achieved yet. Briefly, the descriptive and resultative expressions are either analyzed as main predicates (Chao 1968, Huang and Mangione 1985) or as complements (Huang 1988, Li 1990, among others), according to their different behaviors concerning V-not-V Questions, aspect markers, the scope of negation and modals, and so on. Some works differentiate the duration/frequency expressions from the descriptive and resultative expressions, the latter are treated as complements and the former as adjuncts (Tang 1994, Ernst 1994, 2002); while other works view the duration/frequency expressions as sentential predicates (Shi 1990, 2006).
In this paper, we follow Larson’s (2004) Neo-Davidsonian predicational analysis to postverbal adverbials in English and propose that all postverbal elements in Mandarin Chinese, in contrast with preverbal adverbials, are complements in syntax and bear a natural focus in information structure. More specifically, based on the assumption that the presupposed part corresponds to the quantificational restriction and the asserted part to the scope in a focus construction (Kamp 1981, Heim 1982, Hajičová，Partee & Sgall 1998, Pan 2006, among others), we propose a unified account to the postverbal elements in Chinese with respect to their same surface structures, and can get the tree structures, as well as the semantic structures of sentences 1-3, as shown in 4-6 below.
Miss YAO Shuiying is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics. Her research interest mainly involves syntax-information structure interface, NP structures and interpretations, teaching Chinese as a foreign language.
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