An applicative approach to “oblique object” constructions and DOCs in Chinese




Liu, Jianxun

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This thesis explores an applicative approach to two constructions in Chinese: the “oblique object” construction and the double object construction (DOC). The DP following the verb in an “oblique object” construction has generally been viewed as an object of the verb; however, its properties, especially object-associated properties, have not been tested systematically. This study tests the properties of the oblique object, and finds that the oblique object in the “oblique object” construction differs from a typical theme object in a range of syntactic properties. Pylkkänen (2002) hypothesizes that applicatives fall into two categories, high applicatives and low applicatives. Syntactically, the high applicative head is merged above the VP, with the VP as complement and the applied argument as specifier; semantically, high applicatives denote a relation between the applied argument and the event described by the VP. Low applicatives are base-generated within the VP, merging with the direct object as complement and the applied argument as specifier; semantically, a low applied argument bears a transfer-of-possession relation to the direct object. According to Huang (2007), Chinese has two types of DOCs, giving DOCs and stealing DOCs. Giving DOCs indicate situations in which the indirect object is given something or some advantage; stealing DOCs express situations in which the indirect object suffers some loss, or is adversely affected. In analyzing Chinese DOCs from an applicative approach on the basis of Pylkkänen’s high/low applicative hypothesis, Cheng and Wen (2008) suggest that Chinese DOCs are high applicatives, while Sun and Li (2010) suggest that they are low applicatives. This thesis suggests a finer classification of Chinese DOCs, and shows that Chinese DOCs include both high and low applicatives. Specifically, giving DOCs can be analyzed as low recipient applicatives. Stealing DOCs in which the indirect object bears a possessive relation to the theme can be analyzed as low source applicatives, and stealing DOCs in which the indirect object bears no direct semantic relation to the theme correspond to high malefactive applicatives.



syntax, construction, applicatives, direct object, indirect object