Among various types of nominal phrases, the appositive construction has long been a relatively under-researched subject in the literature of Chinese linguistics. This paper centers on the use of the appositive construction [P(ronoun)-Num(eral)-Cl(assifier)-Nominal Phrase (NP)] in Mandarin Chinese. Upon revealing a series of asymmetries in syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, this paper proposes an attributional versus identificational distinction for Chinese appositives. Specifically, for the attributional case, the apposition (i.e. [Num-Cl-NP]) is property-denoting and serves to rationalize the speaker’s evaluation about the referent denoted by the anchor (i.e. the P); for the identificational case, the apposition is individual-denoting and serves to facilitate referent identification of the anchor by picking out an identifiable quantified set of discourse referents from the given context. To formally capture this distinction, this paper develops a dichotomous analysis for the syntax of Chinese appositives. The non-unified treatment not only offers an effective explanation for the asymmetries exhibited by the appositives under different cases, but also contributes to a better understanding of Chinese appositives in general. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s).
CitationJin, J. (2022). Attributional versus identificational: A dichotomous analysis of appositives in Mandarin Chinese. Journal of Linguistics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1017/S0022226722000342
- Appositive construction
- Mandarin Chinese
- Nominal phrase
- Structural ambiguity