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On deriving Chinese derived nominals: Evidence for V-to-N raising

Jingqi Fu, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation is an investigation of the syntax of Chinese derived nominals. A detailed description of properties characteristic of Chinese derived nominals is given and it is argued that their properties support a syntactic derivation of nominalization and against the Lexicalist Hypothesis (Chomsky 1970). Descriptively, it is first established that Chinese derived nominals have the basic properties observed in nominalizations of other languages and this challenges theories of nominalizations of Universal Grammar to account for Chinese as well. For example, derived nominals are ambiguous between two process and result readings. Further, under process reading they exhibit verbal characteristic such as argument taking. Morphologically, it is argued that derived nominals are derived from their verbal counterparts via zero-affixation. It is then shown that Chinese process nominals, but not ordinary nouns, have a mixture of nominal-verbal properties. First, they exhibit both nominal and verbal selectional properties. Second, they exhibit both nominal and verbal structure. For example, they have both nominal and verbal modification and word order. And they behave like a VP in terms of reconstruction effect (Huang 1993) and some context dependent deletion. More importantly, these mixed properties are not unstructured: only certain constituents must show VP characteristics and nominal-verbal structural properties are confined to specific positions. It is argued that those mixed properties of derived nominals must be accounted for by an underlying VP. More specifically, the theory of Parallel Morphology (Borer 1993), which links syntactic structure to morphological structure of a word, is shown to account for Chinese derived nominals. Due to their verbal root and nominalizer, derived nominals project both a VP and a NP. This explains all the reference to VP structure and the fact that verbal and nominal properties are confined to specific positions. It is also argued that a Lexicalist account, even a more elaborate one such as that of Grimshaw (1990) fails to capture the dual structural properties of derived nominals because under a lexicalist account, derived nominals are structurally identical to nouns. Further prediction of Parallel Morphology is borne out against the nominalization of Chinese serial verb constructions.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Fu, Jingqi, "On deriving Chinese derived nominals: Evidence for V-to-N raising" (1994). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9510472.