The syntax of the abstract-type measurement construction in mandarin Chinese

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This paper investigates a special sub-type of measurement construction in Mandarin Chinese, namely the [Num-measure word-de-N] construction where the N is an abstract dimension-denoting noun. Evidence is presented to show that the abstract-type [Num-measure word-de-N] should be fundamentally distinguished from the quantifying-/modifying-type [Num-measure word-de-N], in which the [Num-measure word] sequence serves to quantize/modify a semantically concrete, entity-denoting N. At the interpretive level, this paper claims that the abstracttype [Num-measure word-de-N] is semantically definite. At the syntactic level, a clausal analysis within the framework of the Predicate Inversion theory is pursued to account for the derivation of the abstract-type measurement construction. Last, it is proposed that the word order distinction between the Chinese abstracttype measurement construction, which is N-final, and its English counterpart, where the N linearly precedes [Num-measure word], can be explained in terms of a parametric variation with respect to the (non-)application of N-raising after Predicate Inversion.
本文討論漢語中一類特殊的度量短語,即所含名詞表示抽象度量範疇的 [ 數詞 - 度量詞 -“的”- 名詞 ]。抽象類度量短語與所含 [ 數詞 - 度量詞 ] 用於表示量化或修飾具體事物名詞的 [ 數詞 - 度量詞 -“的”- 名詞 ] 有著本質上的不同。本文提出,抽象類 [ 數詞 - 度量詞 -“的”- 名詞 ] 從語義上說是一個有定表達。在句法上,該結構的衍生過程可通過謂語倒裝理論下的小句分析來解釋。最後,本文從參數差異角度探討了漢語抽象類度量短語中名詞居後、而英語抽象類度量短語中名詞居前的原因,提出這與謂語倒裝完成後是否還發生名詞提升有關。 Copyright © 2017 by T.T. Ng Chinese Language Research Centre, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-61
JournalStudies in Chinese Linguistics
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


Jin, J. (2017). The syntax of the abstract-type measurement construction in mandarin Chinese. Studies in Chinese Linguistics, 38(1), 35-61. doi: 10.1515/scl-2017-0003


  • Measurement construction
  • Predicate inversion
  • Word order
  • Chinese syntax
  • 度量短語
  • 謂語倒裝
  • 語序
  • 漢語句法
  • Alt. title: 論漢語抽象類度量短語的句法結構


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