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


Incorporation in Chinese Syntax (I)

Vol. 21 No. 1   6/1991


Incorporation in Chinese Syntax (I) 


Ting-chi Tang 









Key words



    This paper investigates the function of, and constraints on, incorporation in Chinese syntax. By incorporation is meant that a word or phrase is adjoined, as a result of reanalysis, to another morpheme, word or phrase and thus becomes one word or phrase. 

    Incorporation in Chinese includes lexical incorporation, which occurs in compounds, as well as syntactic incorporation, which occurs between words and phrases. Incorporating words are usually verbs and nouns which function as head of the incorporation while incorporated words are nouns, noun phrases, prepositions, verbs, adjectives and adverbs which function as modifiers of the head.

    We have analyzed both lexical and syntactic incorporation in Chinese as a generalized case of ‘Affect α’ and claim that incorporation in Chinese is subject to the sub-symptoms of principles as proposed in the Principles-and-Parameters Approach, which include Projection theory, θ-Theory, X-Bar Theory, Case Theory, Government Theory and Bounding Theory. 

    Syntactic structure are composed of phrases, and may project to the three-bare level while words consist of morphemes and may project only to the two bar level. This hierarchical difference between syntactic structure and word structure can be derived from the definition of word and is directly reflected in their X-bar structures. We assume the existence of word structure and lexical component in Chinese grammar, but we do not assert the full autonomy of lexicon. Instead, we propose that the word structure as well as other levels of syntactic representations (i.e. D-structure, S-structure, and Logical Form) be subject to the sub-systems of principles. This means that the subsystems of principles in the Principles-and-Parameters approach apply not only to the syntactic structure but also to the word structure. We also interpreter all the principles involved as well formed ness condition, which apply to all types of sentence and word structures.




Author: Ting-chi Tang
Genre: Article
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