Resumptive pronouns are not optional: evidence from topic constructions of the possessor in Mandarin Chinese
AffiliationUniversity of Arizona
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JournalCoyote Papers: Working Papers in Linguistics, Linguistic Theory at the University of Arizona
AbstractIn Mandarin Chinese topic constructions of the possessor, optional resumptive pronouns (RP) seem to occur. Meanwhile, the data also show a difference in the extractability of the possessor, i.e., the so-called subject-object asymmetry in extractability (Huang 1982). That is, when the possessor of a subject possessive phrase is topicalized/left-dislocated, a gap is grammatical, and an RP is also allowed; when the possessor of an object possessive phrase is topicalized, a gap is disallowed, and an RP saves the otherwise illicit extraction of the possessor. This paper first argues that the Chinese possessive phrase has a phrase structure that resembles the English counterpart, and adopts Abney’s (1987) DP-Hypothesis for the Chinese possessive phrase. Based on the Left Branch Condition (LBC; Ross 1986), the paper then proposes the Symmetrical Hypothesis, i.e., extraction of the possessor is equally illegal from either argument position. With respect to the occurrence of the seemingly optional RPs along with the extraction of the possessor from the subject possessive phrase, the paper posits two distinct possibilities for the extraction: extraction from the subject position directly, which is an argument position, or from the topic position instead, which is a derived position in the left periphery. LBC is at work with the former possibility, and therefore the subject-object asymmetry dissolves; LBC is violable in the latter possibility, given the specific nature of the left periphery (Rizzi 1997). The analysis for the latter possibility leads to the claim that the RP is in fact obligatory, and that the RP and the gap are in different derivations. Further data from Lu (1995) present a challenge to Huang’s asymmetry as well as the proposed Symmetrical Hypothesis. That is, when the possessor is 3rd person non-human, the extraction of the possessor from the object position renders the gap grammatical, but the RP ungrammatical. The analysis of the data finds that the animacy of the possessor plays an important role in eliciting the different grammaticality judgment here. As a result, the utterance of the 3rd person nonhuman RP is prohibited, hence the proposed No Pronunciation Rule. In this sense, Mandarin Chinese also has null RPs.