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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


The “Generalized” X-bar Conventions and Word-Format ion Typology

Vol. 25 No. 4   12/1994  


The “Generalized” X-bar Conventions and Word-Formation Typology


Ting-chi Tang









Key words

Chinese, English and Japanese word-syntax, the “Generalized” X-bar Convention, word-formation typology


      It is proposed in Tang (1990, 1993, 1994a, 1994b) that two additional rules (i.e.vi) X’X, ’X, and (v) ’X’X, ’X, where ’X stands for a stem or morpheme, free or bound_ be added to the original X-bar conventions (i.e. (i) XPXP, X’, (ii) X’XP, X’,(iii) X’XP, X) to account for the formation or licensing of Chinese compounds. In these additional rules, the endocentric and binary- branching constraints remain intact, with a rexcursiveness mechanism incorporated in the rule (v) for morphological constructions just as the same mechanism is incorporated in the rule (ii) for phrasal constructions. What distinguishes the additional rules from the original rules is while the latter consist of Xs, X’s and XPs, the former c onsist only of ’Xs, which accounts for, among other things, the impossibility of extraction of constituent stems from words, the non-preferentiality of noun stems and their failure to serve as antecedents of pronouns or anaphors, and the prohibition against insertion of elements from outside words.

    In this paper, our discussion of the relevancy of the generalized X-bar conventions to word-formation includes not only compound words, which consist of stems or roots, but also complex words, which consist of stems and affixes. Furthermore, the proposed conventions will be tested against the word-formation in three typologically distinct as well as genetically unrelated languages (namely, Chinese, English, and Japanese) to see whether the same licensing conditions hold for languages other than Chinese.

    Our paper consists of five sections. After a brief introduction in section 1, section 2 presents the generalized X-bar conventions and discusses how they apply to generate or license Chinese compound words and complex words, while section 3 defines the notion of head for both compound and complex words and investigates how the categorial features of the both compound and complex words, while section 3 defines the notion of head for both compound and complex words and investigates how the categorical conversions, how one category may convert into another. Then section 4 examines the hierarchical structure and linear order of constituent stems, which constitute various types of Chinese compounds and contrasts various types of compounds between Chinese, English, and Japanese. Finally, in section 5, a typological study of word-formation is suggested interms of the recent developments of the principles and parameters theory.



Author: Ting-chi Tang
Genre: Article
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