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A Study on the Locative Subject Construction in Mandarin

Author: GongMinJie
Tutor: NingChunYan
School: Hunan University
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: Eventuality Predicate Aspectual Marker PRO Incorporation Empty you
CLC: H146
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2009
Downloads: 62
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Abstract


This thesis studies the Locative Subject Construction (henceforth LSC) in Mandarin Chinese. The construction can take a locative phrase as subject and a transitive verb or intransitive verb (either unergative or unaccusative) as predicate.Because the agent of the transitive verb or unergative verb in an LSC may not be realized at the surface form, the first problem to be tackled in this thesis is to make sure whether it is a drop or deletion. Drop means that the agent is realized as an empty category. Deletion actually means that the agent role is not required by the verbal predicate.In this study I propose Eventuality Constraint of Incorporation (henceforth ECI) and based on it I point out that both drop and deletion occur in LSCs with transitive verbs. The deletion is explained with the help of Huang’s (1997: 53-54) proposal that there are covert verbs as eventuality predicates in Mandarin. The agent is deleted, because the covert verb CAUSE which selects an agent is not put into the structure. By Smith’s (1991) Two-Component Theory and ECI, I also explain the incompatibility between the aspectual marker zhe and the agent argument in an LSC. The aspectual marker zhe makes an accomplishment verb unable to assume causative eventuality. According to ECI, it can not be incorporated to a CAUSE and no agent is selected. The drop produces a PRO which is proved to be possible in Spec VP in an LSC in question, a governed position. I prove that the Spec VP is invisible to the Binding Theory. Therefore, a PRO can still be present and governed in Spec VP, although a PRO is of the feature [+anaphor, +pronominal] and supposed to be not governed according to PRO-theorem. In the mean while, the locative phrase in subject position is in fact an element inserted there to meet the requirement of Extended Projection Principle.The derivation of an LSC is based on an empty you“have”in my account. The empty you causes a verb in the complement IP to be incorporated to it, for it lacks phonological form and needs to be supported by a phonologically full element. After the incorporation movement, the inversion like word order of an LSC is produced. When the verb in an LSC is an unaccusative verb, the Case assignment for post-verbal NP proves to be no problem. The post-verbal NP is in subject position before the incorporation movement and gets a nominative Case needed. So, in my analysis, there is no Case assignment trouble at all. The derivation based an empty you“have”also accounts for the number of arguments in an LSC. Empty you“have”requires a location ahead of it. When the verb in its complement IP bears the argument structure <theme location>, the relevant LSC carries three arguments in accordance. Turning to ECI, the ungrammaticality of some forms of LSC is also explained.

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CLC: > Language, writing > Chinese > Grammar > Modern,modern syntax
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