Halle aux farines, 506B (Hall B)
Haihua Pan (City University of Hong Kong)
A Unified Analysis of Chinese Passives Including Retained Objects
Abstract: This study proposes a topic-comment solution to Chinese passives, including those with retained objects. We argue that the preverbal and pre-bei NP is a base-generated topic in the specifier position of CP. The subject position is originally empty and serves as a landing site for the caseless theme DP which moves there to receive the nominative case. For those passives with retained objects, such as Zhangsan bei tufei sha-le fuqin and Zhangsan bei daduan-le yizhi gebo, we argue that the so called retained object, such as fuqin ‘father’ or gebo ‘arm’, is in fact an inverted subject after getting the nominative case, as it is the result of a rightward movement due to some pragmatic reasons and this movement is assumed to create an end-focus position. Under this proposal, a variety of related constructions can be analyzed in the same vein, including sentences like Zhe guo fan chi shi ge ren ‘This pot of rice eats ten people’. Compared with their English counterparts, we argue that Chinese passives, especially bei passives including long and short passives, comply with the familiar passivization operations, i.e., case absorption, theme promotion and agent demotion, though Chinese differs from English in allowing the passive operation to apply to complex predicates.