The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 4/27 - Cater Chen (MIT)

Speaker: Cater Chen (MIT)
Title: Three [anti [long-distance dependency] effects in Mandarin BEI-construction
Time: Tuesday, April 27th, 1pm – 2pm

Abstract: The Mandarin BEI-construction, where BEI introduces an eventuality that is predicated of the subject of BEI, shows mixed properties in terms of A- vs. A′- movement, similar to the English tough-construction. Compared to other types of A′- dependencies, the BEI-construction is more constrained: long-distance dependencies between the subject of BEI and an object gap cannot be established when the external argument of the eventuality predicate introduced by BEI is existentially closed, or when the subject of BEI and the object gap are separated by a finite clause boundary (Huang 1999; Ting 1998; a.o.).

I propose that the BEI-construction involves composite A/A′-movement followed by A-movement, similar to Longenbaugh’s (2017) analysis of the tough-construction: the mixed A/A′-properties of the BEI-construction are the expected result of composite A/A′-movement; the (derived) subject of BEI A-moves to Spec, IP without violating the Ban on Improper (A′- after A-) Movement.

I also propose to distinguish between compound and simple BEI-construction: In a compound BEI-construction, BEI heads two projections; the inner BEI serves the function of v, while the outer BEI corresponds to passive Voice. In a simple BEI- construction, BEI heads only one projection, and it corresponds to passive Voice.

I will present three arguments for the current proposal: First, when two DPs A′- move from the complement to BEI, only the DP closer to BEI can be the subject of BEI. Secondly, in a simple BEI-construction, the case-less DP must be the subject of BEI. Lastly, only the subject of a finite clause can hyper-raise to be the subject of BEI.