This study analyzes semantic constraints affecting the order of motion morphemes in Mandarin Chinese multi-morpheme motion constructions (MMMCs, e.g. zǒu-jìn fángjiān ‘walk into the room’ (lit.) ‘walk-enter room’ vs. *jìn-zǒu (lit.) ‘enter-walk’). We classify Chinese motion morphemes into four types based on recent study on “scale structure”. Then, we propose an implicational scalar hierarchy formed by the four types of morphemes that can be used to predict the order of motion morphemes in Chinese MMMCs. Our corpus studies demonstrate that the hierarchy can explain the morpheme order of MMMCs for a comprehensive range of existing natural Chinese data. We anticipate that our scalar hierarchy may be extensible to serial-verb motion constructions in other languages as well.
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