Bei-passive Constructions in Mandarin
Jian Gang Ngui
April 2024

For many decades now, the analysis of Mandarin bei-passives has been at the heart of much scholarly debate. One line of analysis argues that long bei-passives, which have an overt initiator, are syntactically distinct from short bei-passives, which have an implicit initiator. In particular, such an approach analyses the long passive as involving A’-movement of a null operator and the short passive as involving A-movement of PRO (Feng 1997/2012; Huang 1999; 2013; 2014; Huang et al. 2009; Lin 2009; 2015; Liu 2012; 2016; Liu & Huang 2013; 2016; Tang 2001; Ting 1998, among others). Such analyses typically cite the presence of A’-effects exhibited by long passives as motivation for proposing A’-movement, and conversely also argue that the lack of A’-effects in short passives necessitates an A-movement analysis instead. In this dissertation, I propose a novel unified analysis for both long and short passives that involves the A’-movement of a null operator. Such an approach predicts that A’-effects should be detected in both the long and short passives, and I present evidence showing that both passives do indeed exhibit a variety of A’-effects, including the presence of parasitic gaps, the presence of resumptive pronouns, island repair via resumption and long-distance dependencies. In doing so, I demonstrate that the claims made by the abovementioned non-unified approaches are falsified and that my approach has wider empirical coverage. Two natural consequences of my unified approach for the long and short passives are that 1) the only putative difference between the long and short passive should be the presence of the initiator, which I claim is the object of a null preposition a PP adjunct; and 2) there is external argument suppression even in the long passive since the oblique initiator does not saturate the external argument position (Legate 2014). Relatedly, I show that the initiator does not induce blocking effects (Biggs 2014; Cole et al. 1990; Cole & Wang 1996; Hu 2019; Tang 1989), which is expected only if the initiator is indeed in an adjunct position. I also present evidence from preposition stranding in long bei-passives (Pan 2016) to argue that the initiator is the object of a null preposition and thus is in a PP adjunct. To account for the short passives in which A’-effects are reportedly not detected, I also propose a linear ordering constraint that can be satisfied by appropriate intervening elements, which include adverbial phrases and prepositional phrases. Thus, I argue that there are extra-syntactic phenomena that block A’-effects in short passives, and consequently my unified A’-movement account for both bei-passives can be maintained.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008184
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: ProQuest
keywords: formal syntax; formal semantics; morphology; passive constructions; bei-passive constructions; a-movement; a'-movement; idiomatic constructions; tough-movement; island sensitivity; island repair; parasitic gaps; long-distance dependencies; resumptive pronouns; haplology; a'-movement of null operator; linear ordering constraint, semantics, morphology, syntax
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