Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The syntax of comparative correlatives in Mandarin Chinese
by E, Chen-chun, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2014, 188; 3622174
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is an analysis, assuming the framework of Government and Binding Theory, of the syntactic derivation of comparative correlative constructions (hereafter CCs for short) in Mandarin Chinese. It attempts to evaluate the theoretical adequacy of extant treatments of CCs and propose an alternative analysis to the prevailing adjunct approach.

CC constructions exist crosslinguistically. An English example is The more chocolate I eat, the happier I feel. In Chinese, a simplex CC sentence consists of two non-coordinated clauses; the lexical word yue, which indicates degree, is obligatory in both clauses, as illustrated in (1): (1) tianqi yue1 re, dian-fei yue 2 gao. weather [ YUE1 hot], electricity-fee [YUE 2 high] 'The hotter the weather is, the higher the electricity fee is.'

Unlike the English comparative phrase, which has been shown to undergo A-bar movement in earlier studies, the yue-constituent remains in situ. I argue that yue is generated in [Spec, DegP] and behaves as an indefinite in-situ degree element on a par with an in-situ wh-element (Li 1992; Tsai 1994; Cheng and Rooryck 2000; Cheng 2003a, 2003b). The yue-variable in each clause is unselectively bound (Lewis 1975, Heim 1982, Cheng and Huang 1996) by an implicit CORRELATIVITY OPERATOR and does not undergo A-bar movement.

In addition to the idiosyncratic in-situ yue-phrase, another property of CCs is the syntactic interdependency between the constitutive clauses. Earlier studies (Dikken 2005, Taylor 2006, 2009, Tsao and Hsiao 2002) treat the preceding clause as an adjunct. However, an adjunct approach cannot account for the property of syntactic interdependency. As an alternative, I assume Rizzi's (1997) work on the Split CP Hypothesis, arguing that Chinese CCs implicate the information structure in the left periphery and that they are a type of Focus construction. A Chinese CC sentence like (1) is projected by a null functional head Foc0. The first clause is focused and base-generated in [Spec, FocP] and the second clause is the complement of the null Foc0. The [+focus] feature in Foc 0 licenses the co-occurrence of yue1 and yue2. This alternative analysis can capture not only crosslinguistic commonalities but also the language-internal property of topic-prominence in Chinese.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Harley, Heidi
Commitee: Carnie, Andrew, Karimi, Simin, Zhang, Qing
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics
Keywords: Chinese, Comparative correlatives, Focus, Split CP, Syntax, Topic
Publication Number: 3622174
ISBN: 9781303937620