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Possessor raising in Chinese and Korean

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A possessor NP may move out from the Spec position of a containing NP in some Asian languages such as Chinese and Korean, yielding the so-called ‘Possessor Raising Construction’. From the perspective of a syntactic theory based on principles and parameters of Universal Grammar, rather than on differing sets of rules for different particular languages, we in this article argue that the diverse Possessor Raising phenomena can well be subsumed along with ‘Passivization’ and ‘Subject Raising’ under the general syntactic process of ‘NP Movement’. The movement of Possessor Raising is driven by a functional motivation, which is to separate the possessor NP from the possession NP in order to emphasize the former. It has been demonstrated that the operation of Possessor Raising is well under the constraint of UG principles in interaction with independently explainable language-particular properties, in particular, it is mainly determined by the following three factors: (1) Whether the raised possessor NP can be properly Case-marked in its new site; (2) Whether the nominal residue left behind by the NP movement can be Case-marked; and (3) Whether other applicable conditions on movement such as the Subjacency can be satisfied. Most of our arguments are constructed on the basis of the analysis of a whole set of comparable language phenomena from Chinese, Korean and English, and those phenomena, most of which are well observed in the literature, are recast and explained in a very much principled way.

Keywords: Chinese/English/Korean; movement; possessor

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Henan University/National University of Singapore

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • International Journal for Contrastive Linguistics

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