A semantic-syntactic analysis of Chao’s sentences

with a verbal subject and a nominal predicate (in Chinese)

Zhongru Xiong

Abstract:The clause can be divided into three layers: the thematic layer, the inflectional layer and the discourse layer, within which there exist the corresponding logical subject, grammatical subject and psychological subject. Topicalization belongs to A’-movement which involves an argument and an adjunct. For Chao’s sentences with a verbal subject and a nominal predicate (CS, for short), the topicalized elements are complement clauses and adverbial clauses. The complement clause is the nominal predicate’s argument in CS, acting as the predicate’s logical subject, such as ‘bu xiayu‘ in ‘bu xiayu yijing sangeyue le‘. It can be raised into the Spec of T or Top, hence, as a grammatical subject or a topic. The adverbial clause is an adjunct of the TP. It can’t act as a grammatical subject, but can be raised as a topic, such as ‘tao’ in ‘tao cantou‘. Since Chinese lacks of inflection in T, the null subject can be licensed and the verbal host doesn’t need. The former makes the clause represent as a bare verb or a verbal phrase, and the latter makes the nominal phrase act as a predicate without the copula’s support. Hence, the CSs can be produced with the two types of strength, for instance, in ‘pro tao pro cantou’, the subject is null as pro and the predicate has no copular. The CSs do not challenge the universal principles in the Chomskian linguistics, and they are related with the feature of T in Chinese.