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Title: Argument Structure, HPSG and Chinese Grammar
Authors: Gao, Gian
Keywords: Sino-Tibetan Languages
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: Ohio State University
Abstract: In this thesis, I argue that in Chinese, topic structure can be uniformly treated as additional-type, thus creating a third unmarked NP or LP (locative phrase) position in a sentence (in addition to subject and object); on this analysis the empty element traditionally analyzed as a wh-trace is now treated as a null resumptive pronoun. Words traditionally analyzed as prepositions are shown to function essentially as case markers of the NP/LP they combine with, thereby forming the marked complements in a sentence. Arguments of a verb are shown to form an list (ordered by presence/absence of proto-agent and proto-patient properties) that determines their linear order, with the most agent-like argument realized as subject, the most patient-like as the object (unmarked complement, which is always postverbal), and the remaining arguments as (preverbal) marked complements, with the marking determined by thematic properties. Variations in sentences (such as ha- vs. non-ba-constructions) are argued to arise from valence alternations of the head verb, according to its transitivity reqirements. Transitive verbs are divided into nominal-transitives, which require NPs as their object, and locative-transitives, which require LPs as their object. Even though Chinese is shown to be an SVO language, the process of losing preposition while gaining markers has given it some SOV characteristics. This mixed word order can be seen from the ways that resultative verb compounds (RVCs) are formed. I propose that RVCs in Chinese can be not only left-headed, following the traditional head-initial system, but also right-headed, thereby giving rise to a special kind of verb -- the middle verbs -- which permits the ba-alternation. Under this analysis, multiply ambiguous sentences such as Zhangsan zhuilei-le Lisi (meaning (a) 'Zhangsan chased Lisi and got himself tired.', (b) 'Zhangsan chased Lisi and got him tired.', and (c) 'Chasing Zhangsan got Lisi tired.') can now be explained satisfactorily.
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