Event Title

Topic Prominence and Complement Roles in Mandarin Syntax

Research Mentor(s)

Lobeck, Anne C.

Description

In this project we analyze the syntactic structure of Mandarin. Like English, Mandarin is considered a highly analytic language, having little to no usage of morphology. Instead it utilizes word order and helper words to display the grammatical cues that morphemes normally would. Interestingly, Mandarin has a divergent system from regular Word Order Typology, that determines word order in special contexts. This is called Topic-Prominence, which means the word order is based more off of the topic of the sentence rather than the subject. This syntactic phenomenon acts upon the smaller parts of syntax, ultimately changing the word order of whole phrases, such as prepositional phrases (PP), which occupy different locations of a phrase due to the contextual and semantic meanings of the sentence topic as well as the PP itself. Null arguments are also prominent in Mandarin, where the subject pronoun is frequently dropped if the speakers are already contextually aware of it, which again touches back on Topic Prominence where the Topic of the sentence fully eliminates the need for an un-implied subject. Along with Topic Prominent word order, Mandarin employs complements to define certain aspects of a phrase. In Mandarin, complements may be a variety of phrases; including verb, adjective, prepositional, measure word phrases, or long complex phrases, displayed in eight different types: result, direction, potential, degree, state, quantity, location, and time. Although Mandarin’s word order (SVO) and analytic nature are very similar to English, its application of Topic Prominence and complements are unique and particular. Due to this, these topics are worth evaluating for an overall deeper understanding of Mandarin syntax.

Document Type

Event

Start Date

15-5-2019 9:00 AM

End Date

15-5-2019 5:00 PM

Location

Carver Gym (Bellingham, Wash.)

Department

Linguistics

Genre/Form

student projects, posters

Subjects – Topical (LCSH)

Mandarin dialects--Syntax

Type

Image

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 15th, 9:00 AM May 15th, 5:00 PM

Topic Prominence and Complement Roles in Mandarin Syntax

Carver Gym (Bellingham, Wash.)

In this project we analyze the syntactic structure of Mandarin. Like English, Mandarin is considered a highly analytic language, having little to no usage of morphology. Instead it utilizes word order and helper words to display the grammatical cues that morphemes normally would. Interestingly, Mandarin has a divergent system from regular Word Order Typology, that determines word order in special contexts. This is called Topic-Prominence, which means the word order is based more off of the topic of the sentence rather than the subject. This syntactic phenomenon acts upon the smaller parts of syntax, ultimately changing the word order of whole phrases, such as prepositional phrases (PP), which occupy different locations of a phrase due to the contextual and semantic meanings of the sentence topic as well as the PP itself. Null arguments are also prominent in Mandarin, where the subject pronoun is frequently dropped if the speakers are already contextually aware of it, which again touches back on Topic Prominence where the Topic of the sentence fully eliminates the need for an un-implied subject. Along with Topic Prominent word order, Mandarin employs complements to define certain aspects of a phrase. In Mandarin, complements may be a variety of phrases; including verb, adjective, prepositional, measure word phrases, or long complex phrases, displayed in eight different types: result, direction, potential, degree, state, quantity, location, and time. Although Mandarin’s word order (SVO) and analytic nature are very similar to English, its application of Topic Prominence and complements are unique and particular. Due to this, these topics are worth evaluating for an overall deeper understanding of Mandarin syntax.