Linguistics Department

Dissertation Defense - Qianping Gu

Noun Incorporation and Resultative Verb Compounding in Mandarin Chinese

Mon, November 11, 2019 | RLP 4.710

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This dissertation investigates two types of compounding (in a broad sense) in Mandarin Chinese, namely, Noun Incorporation and Resultative Verb Compounding. I argue that the object of the S-le sentence structure is a case of noun incorporation. Syntactically, the object is constrained as it prefers a bare noun or a small noun phrase but rejects (indefinite) articles and quantifiers entirely. Semantically, the object has those properties that an incorporated noun typically has. It has narrow scope with respect to modality and quantifiers, a number neutral reading if it is a bare noun, and is discourse-opaque as it cannot serve as the antecedent of an anaphoric pronoun. The S-le sentence is also argued to be neutral of grammatical aspect as it allows a range of aspectual interpretations, depending on the context. The proposed semantic analysis for the S-le sentence is that it expresses informativeness, which is construed as a presupposition that the proposition is new to the hearer. The evidence for this analysis has three sources. One is the distribution that it is naturally used in a context where the proposition is new to the hearer, building on Liu (2002). The second piece of evidence is a Gricean effect when it is used in a context in which the proposition is not new to the hearer. The third piece of evidence is the significantly increased acceptability of S-/e sentences with heavy NP-internal modifiers, which are usually syntactically dispreferred in S-le sentences, in an informative context when the speaker intends to provide new information.

For Resultative Verb Compounding, I investigate what semantics the two resultative morphemes, -wan and -diao, contribute to the aspectual meaning of the entire compound. I propose that -wan expresses termination and -diao culmination ( or completion). Both yield telicity but through different avenues. Termination yields telicity by constraining the run time of event while culmination ( or completion) sets the constraint on the patient.

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