Mandarin Resultative Verb Compounds
Where Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics Meet
The City University of New York
This book undertakes two major tasks. First, it offers a lexical-semantic account of Mandarin resultative verb compounds (RVCs) within the event structure model of argument representation and argument realization developed on the basis of Levin & Rappaport Hovav’s work (particularly Levin 1999 and Rappaport Hovav & Levin 1998). On this account, the complex thematic relations expressed by RVCs result from different interactions of the individual thematic relation expressed by each component of the compound and the composite thematic relation expressed by the whole compound, and from the different ways of realizing the Causer and the Causee.
Second, the book places the study of Mandarin RVCs in a larger context and examines four aspects of Mandarin RVCs from a crosslinguistic perspective, namely the subject-oriented reading (when the causing predicate is unergative or transitive), the “scare reading,” the occurrence in the inchoative frame of a causative alternation, and the use of a stative causing predicate. It shows that all these phenomena are crosslinguistically marked and thus typologically significant. It argues that the differences among English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Romanian, and Swedish with respect to the first three phenomena fall out of the difference in the way the resultative is formed (namely, compound resultatives vs. non-compound resultatives), the headedness of the compound (and the degree of topic prominence of the language).
The lexical-semantic account proposed is of theoretical significance in at least three respects. First, lexical (and syntactic) rules, like ordinary lexical items, are language memory bank items, although they themselves are not lexical items. As a result, there is no need to list the outputs of the rules in the lexicon or in the language memory bank. In turn, it does not necessarily lead to polysemy when the same verb is used in different syntactic frames. Second, both simple event roles licensed by simple events and complex event roles licensed by complex events should be recognized. Finally, the division of labor should be maintained, syntax should be made simpler, and the complete isomorphism between syntax and semantics should be abandoned.
ISBN 9783895860676. LINCOM Studies in Chinese Linguistics 06. 174pp. 2008.