Sentences with Object-oriented Adverbials and the Syntax-Semantics Interface



Yang Yongzhong & Yang Yunjue


Work Unit:

Yunnan University of Finance and Economics,China; Shandong University, China


Vol.9 No.1 (Serial No.14) 2021






SOOAs refer to the phenomenon that the state adjective in the adverbial position is semantically associated with the object. In this paper this fact will be accounted for by invoking the properties of a pre-syntactic level of semantic representation and its interplay with syntax proper. It will be argued that the object-oriented adverbial is not derived from the attributive; in effect, it is base-generated in the complement position. A model of projection of arguments that allows for this will be proposed. It will be shown that the other special properties of SOOAs follow from the way the verb’s object and complement are represented at the pre-syntactic level. In particular, it will be shown that the underlying structure must satisfy both the requirement of the syntactic system and the requirement of the semantic system. The presence of any symbol in a representation is conditional. The theta-roles of internal arguments are assigned by the predicate, which is locally constrained, whereas the theta-roles of external arguments are assigned by the maximal projection of the predicate, viz. VP. When an external argument occurs, there is an empty predicate position in the representation, for there is an asymmetry between the conceptual system and the syntactic system. Derivation involves Move-α and Generalized Transformation. Different use of derivation methods gives rise to various forms of constructions in Chinese. Similarly, different semantic orientations result from different distributions. The state adjective is base-generated in the position behind the object because its nature is to serve the function of the complement of the object. It co-occurs with the object in the embedded VP because they are closely related to each other in terms of semantics. There is no overt predicate between the object and the state adjective. The state adjective occurs in other positions, which is the result of movement. Movement falls into two types, viz. object movement and state adjective movement. Object movement is prior to state adjective movement. In order to satisfy the requirement of feature checking, the object moves to the position NP. Then the state adjective moves to the major predicate and merges with it so as to maintain its semantic association with the state adjective and to serve the function of the complement. It follows that the difference between Chinese SOOAs and English as well as German SOOAs lies in the distance of movement of state adjectives. In Chinese, there are causative markers, resultative markers, and manner markers that can license the state adjective in the landing sites and help to maintain its semantic association with the object while in English and German there are no such markers. As a consequence, the object in Chinese-type SOOAs does not move while the state adjective moves out of the embedded VP to the empty verb position where the manner marker is inserted. The major predicate moves to the same position and merges with the newly-formed syntactic object ADJ-MANN. Furthermore, Chinese-type SOOAs allow the state adjective to precede the major predicate as the manner marker can license the state adjective. In contrast, in English-type SOOAs, neither the state adjective nor the object moves. Moreover, English-type SOOAs do not allow the state adjective to come before the major predicate because there is no manner marker to license it.

Key Words:

SOOAs, state adjective, representation, empty verb, movement parameter


doi: 10.26478/ja2021.9.14.2


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