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Title: Fronting constructions in Chinese from synchronic and diachronic perspectives
Authors: Li, Man
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This study aims to provide a comprehensive picture of fronting constructions throughout the history of Chinese. This goal is achieved by utilising quantitative and qualitative data from two corpora, the Chinese Parsed Historical Corpus (ChiPaHC) and the Centre for Chinese Linguistics Corpus in Beijing university (CCL). The study is mainly divided into two parts. The study in the first part is based on an exhaustive sample of the (S)OV and OSV surface orders from ChiPaHC, with supplementary data drawn from the CCL for their syntactic analyses and historical development. With a further categorisation of the preliminary data, the fronting constructions analysed in this thesis include demonstrative fronting, pronoun fronting in the context of negation, wh-phrase fronting in Late Archaic Chinese, object raising in equational constructions through history, nominal fronting in Early Modern Chinese, copula shi fronting, focus shi fronting, topicalisation and ke constructions. A unified analysis is argued for, aiming to accommodate the synchronic performance and diachronic development of these object fronting constructions. Three negations in Chinese are discovered as a novel diagnostic for the object fronting positions: Focus Negation (flexible), Middle Negation (sentential) and Low Negation (vP negation). They diagnose four fronting positions: the CP external Topic position, the canonical subject position, TP internal Topic Position and the Spec v below Low Negation. All the positions show significant changes on types of fronting constituents they accommodate in and after LAC. To be more detailed, the external Topic position (Spec C) only accommodates a small number of wh-predicates in LAC, but after LAC, it accommodates all kinds of topicalised objects, including the fronted objects in equational constructions. The canonical subject position (Spec T) accommodates raising subjects, such as objects in equational constructions, modal constructions in LAC and after LAC, objects in passives. TP internal topic position accounts for the fronting of demonstratives and whphrases fronting above Middle Negation in Late Archaic Chinese (LAC). After LAC, it accommodates fronted nominals without explicit markings. The Spec v position immediately below vP negator accommodates pronoun fronting in the context of negation and shi focus fronting. A new analysis is proposed, in which pronoun fronting is triggered by the interaction between Low Negation and modality. This analysis is well supported by the examination of the quantitative evidence of 15 of the most common verbs appearing in pronoun fronting and a negative correlation between double negation and v-to-Mod movement of modals. After LAC, this position is unable to accommodate fronted objects. Several interesting historical changes are captured based on comparative studies of Late Archaic Chinese and the later time periods, which have never been previously reported. v-Mod head movement is observed and supported by a quantitative and qualii itative study of the modals ke, keyi and neng. I also provide a hypothesis that the External Topic Position is activated after LAC, which causes grammar competition between raising and topicalisation for object fronting equational constructions. In the second part of the thesis, I focus on Mandarin passives and provide a unified analysis for each types, including long distance passives with object control verbs, long distance passives with partial control verbs, local long passives, local short passives, possessive passives and adversative passives. I provide a unified A movement analysis of these passives, based on the syntactic analysis of these constructions. I argue that the performance of Chinese passives seems peculiar, as it sometimes displays A’ movement features. I suggest that this is due to the historical change undergone by the passives, as they were topicalisation constructions in Early Modern Chinese, but they are in the process of changing to a raising type movement.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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