Chapter published in:Interfaces in Grammar
Edited by Jianhua Hu and Haihua Pan
[Language Faculty and Beyond 15] 2019
► pp. 283–299
Null object constructions, VP-ellipsis, and sentence interpretation
This paper discusses issues related to VP-Ellipsis and null object constructions in Mandarin Chinese. It consists of two parts. First, pace Li (1998) and Xu (2003), but in line with Huang (1988a, b, 1991), the paper argues that it is not true that no null object construction (NOC) sentences can be analyzed as VP-ellipsis in Mandarin Chinese, and it will show that the reason for the fact that the interpretation patterns of the relevant sentences deviate from those of their English counterparts is not because there is no VP-ellipsis in Chinese but because Chinese pronouns and reflexives exhibit some special properties different from those in English. The claim in this paper is that the so-called NOC sentences are ambiguous in structure and can be analyzed as either VP-ellipsis or NOC. Second, pace Kehler (1993), the paper claims that it is not the parallel vs. non-parallel distinction but the semantic and discourse constraints of coordinate constructions with too and ye ‘also’ in VP-ellipsis that help explain why some VP-ellipsis sentences are ungrammatical in English and Mandarin Chinese, respectively. Hence, the coordination construction in neither English nor Chinese is constrained by the so-called syntactic condition which is based on the parallel vs. non-parallel distinction, as proposed in Kehler (1993), and discourse factors play a crucial role in the interpretation of coordination construction in the two languages concerned.
Published online: 15 April 2019
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