Non-canonical passives in Chinese
A mental space account
This paper examines a non-canonical passive construction in Chinese. In this construction, the passive marker bei can proceed a constituent including intransitive verbs, adjectives and nouns, in such expressions as bei zisha/‘commit suicide,’ bei xingfu/‘happy’ or bei gaotie/‘high speed train.’ Following Mental Space Theory (Fauconnier 1994, 1997), this paper argues that the construction serves as a space builder, which prompts conceptualizers to build a counterfactual space to hold the event conveyed by the constituent but deny the event or its associated assumption in the base space. The Mental Space operations produce the interpretations of the construction featured by ambiguity and irony. This study demonstrates the existence of dedicated counterfactual constructions in Chinese. It showcases an attempt to posit cognitive operations as the constructional function and outlines a cognitively plausible procedure to derive specific interpretations of the construction in the context.
Keywords: the non-canonical passive construction, constructional function, Mental Space, counterfactuality, irony
Keywords: 非典型被字构式, 构式功能, 心理空间, 反事实, 反讽
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Published online: 03 June 2020
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