City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 11 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points) | 23 views

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Grammatically, a sentential adverbial which applies to the whole sentence occurs in the initial position, while a predicate adverbial which is related to the verb phrase cannot be transposed to the front of the sentence, as shown:

1a. 他们排成单行(manner adv.)走着。

Tāmen páichéng dān háng zǒuzhe.

(They were walking in a single line.)

1a’  *排成单行(manner adv.)他们走着。

*Páichéng dān háng Tāmen zǒuzhe.

(In a single line they were walking.)

1b. *午夜零点零五分(time adv.)安全地(manner adv.)飞机在北京首都机场(positional adv)降落。

*Wǔyè língdiǎn líng wǔfēn ānquán de fēijī zài Běijīng shǒudū jīchǎng jiàngluò.

(*At 12: 05 midnight safely the airplane landed at Capital Airport in Beijing.)

The sentences of (3a’, b) are ungrammatical, because the predicate adverbials‘páichéng dān háng’ (in a file) and ‘ānquán de’ (safely), each describing the manner in which the action named by the VP is carried out, cannot be moved away from the VPs they modify. They should be placed close to the verbs in terms of the Principle of SP.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.

answered Jun 11 by Ariel (34,470 points)

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