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Chinese Syntax in a Cross-Linguistic Perspective$
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Audrey Li, Andrew Simpson, and Wei-Tien Dylan Tsai

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199945658

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945658.001.0001

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Restricting Non-restrictive Relatives in Mandarin Chinese

Restricting Non-restrictive Relatives in Mandarin Chinese

(p.100) 4 Restricting Non-restrictive Relatives in Mandarin Chinese
Chinese Syntax in a Cross-Linguistic Perspective

Jo-Wang Lin

Wei-Tien Dylan Tsai

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the debate over the restrictive versus non-restrictive distinction of Chinese relatives with a special focus on name-modifying relatives. Evidence shows that many name-modifying relatives, though semantically non-restrictive, possess more syntactic properties of restrictive relatives. The authors propose that this dilemma is a result of the interplay between the syntax of Chinese relatives, which are an integrated part of the DP it modifies, and the semantics of proper names, which are treated as predicates of type <e,t>, denoting either singleton sets or non-singleton sets. Cross-linguistic variations in the (im)possibility of nonrestrictive relatives can be ascribed to the inherent semantic type of proper names, which can be type e, type <e,t> or ambiguous. Along this line, we may indeed take name-modifying relatives to be “integrated nonrestrictives” with properties of restrictive relatives.

Keywords:   non-restrictive relatives, restrictive relatives, proper names, Predicate Modification, semantics

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