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De-constructing small clauses: The case of Mandarin Chinese

Author:

Waltraud Paul

CRLAO, CNRS-EHESS-INALCO, 105, Bd Raspail, 75006 Paris, FR
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Abstract

Taking up an early observation by Y.-H. Audrey Li (1985) stating the systematic lack of Chinese equivalents for English small clauses (SC) with nominal predicates (They elected John president), this article demonstrates that Chinese lacks SCs altogether. This holds independently of the approach adopted, be it the analysis of SCs as lexical projections with different category labels (cf. Stowell 1981, Matushansky 2019) or the uniform analysis of SCs as PredP (cf. Bowers 1993). In Chinese, there is no root vs non-root asymmetry for predicates: If a category X is not licit as an autonomous predicate in matrix sentences, then it is not licit as predicate elsewhere, i.e. in non-root clauses, either. Furthermore, Chinese has no exceptional case marking verbs, i.e. verbs selecting SC-complements. Claims to the contrary in the literature are based on Chinese translations of English SCs and involve completely different structures. Given the lack of SCs in non-root contexts in Chinese, an analysis postulating SCs for non-verbal predication in matrix sentences does not seem to be warranted.

How to Cite: Paul, W. (2021). De-constructing small clauses: The case of Mandarin Chinese. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 6(1), 30. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.1211
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  Published on 26 Mar 2021
 Accepted on 09 Feb 2021            Submitted on 04 Feb 2020

1 Introduction

Recently, Marejl & Matushansky (2015) and Bruening (2018) have demonstrated that a number of constructions so far analysed as involving small clauses (SCs) are in fact amenable to alternative analyses. Against this background, this article takes up an early observation by Y.-H. Audrey Li (1985; 1990), who stated the systematic lack of Chinese equivalents for English SCs with nominal predicates (compare (1) with (2a–b)):

    1. (1)
    1. Wǒmen
    2. 1PL
    1. xuǎn
    2. elect
    1. Zhāngsān
    2. Zhangsan
    1. *(dāng)
    2.     act.as
    1. zǒngtǒng.
    2. president
    1. (Y.-H. Audrey Li 1985: 271)
    2.  
    1. ‘We elected Zhangsan to act as president.’
    1. (2)
    1. a.
    1. John *(is) president.
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. We elected [SC John president].

Taking this as a starting point, Chinese will be shown to lack SCs altogether, be it in the form of lexical projections with different category labels (cf. Stowell 1981; Matushansky 2019) or as a uniform PredP (cf. Bowers 1993). Clausal projections in non-root contexts which have been presented as SCs in the literature are in fact full-fledged clauses acceptable on their own in matrix contexts, as also evidenced by the possible presence of negation, auxiliaries and aspect, i.e. of material which in general is not expected in SCs as “bare” or “reduced” clausal structures.1 In Chinese, there is thus no root vs non-root asymmetry for predicates: if a category X is not licit as an autonomous predicate in matrix sentences, then it is not licit as predicate elsewhere, i.e. in non-root clauses, either. (For the dichotomy root vs non-root, cf. Emonds 1970; also cf. Heycock 2006 for extensive discussion and references.) Since there is no evidence for SCs in non-root contexts, it seems implausible to postulate SCs in root contexts, i.e. as complement of the copula shì ‘be’ and copula-like verbs.

Given that the window on alleged SCs in Chinese currently offered in the literature is much too limited, first of all the set of representative data needs to be established. This in turn requires discussion of very basic issues such as the repertoire of lexical categories in Chinese and their (un)ability to function as predicate, in order to make explicit and to correct tacit misconceptions with farreaching consequences. Importantly, in the course of the investigation, Chinese will also be shown to lack exceptional case marking (ECM) verbs (i.e. verbs selecting inter alia SCs as complements), thus lending additional evidence to the claim defended here that Chinese has no SCs.

The article is organized as follows. Section 2 presents an overview of the phenomena identified as SCs in English and of the different analyses proposed for SCs in the past, from Stowell (1981) over Bowers’ (1993) PredP theory to the minimalist analysis proposed in Matushansky (2019). Against this backdrop, the remaining sections provide ample evidence that alleged SCs in Chinese bear at most a superficial resemblance with SCs in e.g. English and are not as “reduced” as expected for SCs; on the contrary, they represent full-fledged clauses likewise acceptable in matrix contexts. Section 3 briefly examines how the array of non-root SCs established for English are rendered in Chinese, in order to illustrate the variety of constructions encountered here and to show that they all involve structures different from SCs. It then discusses two phenomena mis-presented as involving (VP-)SCs in Chinese, i.e. causative structures and resultative verb compounds. Section 4 investigates which categories can serve as autonomous predicates in matrix contexts and compares them with those allowed in non-root contexts, something studies claiming the existence of SCs have failed to do. Accordingly, they have not seen that these categories are identical. Section 5 turns to the issue of ECM verbs as one of the contexts par excellence for SCs and shows them not to exist in Chinese. It demonstrates that it was inter alia the misparsing of double object constructions and of sentences where the matrix verb selects a clausal complement that led to postulating SCs for Chinese (cf. a.o. Sybesma 1999; Tang Sze-Wing 1998; Niina Zhang 2016). Section 6 examines the consequences that the lack of SCs in Chinese has for the claim that in matrix sentences with non-verbal predicates, the copula and copula-like verbs (e.g. become) select SCs with either adjectives, nouns or adpositions as predicates (cf a.o. Partee 1986; Heycock 1992; Moro 1997; Bowers 2001; den Dikken 2006). Section 7 concludes the article.

2 The phenomenon of small clauses

This section basically follows Matushansky’s (2019) overview of the major steps in the analysis of SCs, starting with Stowell (1981).

2.1 Definition of small clauses (cf. Stowell 1981)

Lexical projections other than verbs can have specifiers that function as their subjects. This constituent, lacking any functional projection [SC Subject XP], was called a small clause (SC) because unlike matrix clauses (cf. (2a) above), SCs in English allow for NPs, Adjectival Phrases (AdjP) and PPs as predicates without the copula:2

    1. (3)
    1. a.
    1. I consider [SC=AdjP John/him [A’ very intelligent]].
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. I expect [SC=PP that sailor/him [P’ off my ship]].
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. John *(is) [AdjP very intelligent]/ *(is) [PP off the ship].

An analysis involving SCs was likewise proposed for matrix sentences with copular verbs such as be, become, seem in combination with NPs, AdjPs or PPs as predicates, by among others Partee (1986), Heycock (1992), Moro (1997), Bowers (2001), den Dikken 2006 (cf. Citko 2011 and Balazs 2012 for detailed discussion and references). This led to a structure where the matrix copular verb selects an SC complement:

    1. (4)
    1. a.
    1. Johni *(is) [SC ti [A’ very intelligent]/ [P’ off the ship] ].
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Jennyi became [SC ti [N’ president/a taxi driver].
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. This propositioni is/seems [SC ti [A’ preposterous]/[P’ out of the question].

Returning to the main focus of this article, i.e. SCs in non-root contexts, examples (5)–(10) provide the complete array of non-root SCs postulated for English, in general subdivided into the following types:

    1. (5)
    1. They elected [SC him president].          (denominative)
    1. (6)
    1. [With Peter sick/out of office], we’ll never get the job done.          (absolute constr.)
    1. (7)
    1. We painted [SC the barn red].          (resultative)
    1. (8a)
    1. Hei ate the meatk [SC PROk raw].          (object depictive)
    1. (8b)
    1. Hei ate the meatk [SC PROi nude].          (subject depictive)
    1. (9)
    1. [SC Me mad]?! Ridiculous.          (“Mad magazine” sentence, also called “root” SC)
    1. (10)
    1. Paul heard [SC Peter scream].          (perception)

While included here for the sake of exhaustiveness, constructions with bare VPs (cf. (10)) are in general not subsumed under SC, because they show important differences with respect to the other types of SCs (cf. Matushansky 2019, section 2).3 First, bare VPs in English are restricted to complements of let, have, help, make, and of modals as well as perception verbs, thus contrasting with the many environments allowed for non-verbal SCs. Second, bare VPs are unacceptable with copular verbs, and third, the external argument of a verb can be absent in passives or middles. Nothing similar is observed for the subject of non-verbal predicates. These properties of bare VPs and the properties of the external argument of verbal predicates are captured by the introduction of v/Voice. The head v/Voice is to be distinguished from the functional head Pred° postulated to accommodate the non-verbal predicates in SC (cf. Baker 2003: 37–39 for further arguments against unifying v/Voice and Pred°).

2.2 Introduction of Pred° (Bowers 1993)

Stowell’s (1981) initial hypothesis that an SC corresponds to the projection of the lexical category serving as its predicate, with the subject in its specifier, was inter alia challenged by data involving movement of an apparent non-maximal projection (cf. (11a) and (12a) from Svenonius 1994) and an already occupied specifier position for non-bare SC predicates, given the prohibition of multiple specifiers (cf. (13a) from Williams 1983):

    1. (11)
    1. a.
    1. How do you want [AdjP your eggs [A’ how ]]?
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. How do you want [PredP your eggs [Pred’ [AdjP how ]]]?
    1. (12)
    1. a.
    1. How famous did the incident make [AdjP the criminal [A’ how famous ]]?
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. How famous did the incident make [PredP the criminal [Pred’ [AdjP how famous ]]?
    1. (13)
    1. a.
    1. I consider [DP Josiah [DP [her father] [D’ ‘s [NP best friend]]]]
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. I consider [PredP Josiah [Pred’ [DP [her father] [D’ ‘s [NP best friend]]]]

This led to proposals postulating a functional head in SC such as Pred° mediating the predicational relation (cf. Bowers 1993). As a result, small clauses no longer involved different lexical projections, but a unique functional projection (headed by Pred°).

2.3 Small clauses in the Minimalist Program

As demonstrated by Matushansky (2019), current minimalist theory can account for the cases in (11)–(13) without postulating any functional category in SCs such as Pred° resulting in the same categorial identity for all SCs.

(11–12) can be analysed as raising-to-object (Johnson 1991; Lasnik & Saito 1991 a.o.): the subject in the SC complement of a verb moves to SpecVP, and the verb raises to a higher head. The sentence can then be derived via moving the entire AdjP SC, a maximal projection, containing the subject trace:

(14)

Concerning (13), the prohibition of multiple specifiers has been abandoned in the meantime for theoretical and empirical reasons (cf. Matushansky 2019, section 2.3) and can thus no longer serve as evidence for the PredP-analysis of SCs.

In general, as argued for extensively by Matushansky (2019), the theoretical and semantic considerations adduced as arguments in favour of the obligatory presence of Pred° (or other functional head) in SCs do not bear further scrutiny or are amenable to alternative analyses (cf. section 4 below for Marelj & Matushansky’s (2015) analysis of ‘take NP1 for NP2’ in English, Serbo-Croatian and Russian as ditransitives). The identical distribution predicted by a uniform PredP analysis of SC is not observed, either (cf. Matushansky 2019: 67–73). As a consequence, Matushansky (2019) rejects the idea that SCs are headed by the same functional head and returns to Stowell’s original analysis of SCs as lexical projections.

Recast into the Minimalist Program, Matushansky (2019) proposes to treat predication as the last thematic merge to an extended projection of a lexical head:

    1. (15)
    1. a.
    1. [VP consider [DP Elise [DP Anna [D’ ‘s [NP best friend]]]]]
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. [VP become [NP Elise [NP a good sister]]]
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. [VP seem [DegP Elise [DegP [4 times] [Deg’ as [AdjP intelligent]]]]]
    2. ‘Elise seems four times as intelligent.’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. [VP make [AdjP Elise [ French]]]          (Matushansky (2019: 95–96; (77a–d))

Given the now heterogeneous syntactic status of SCs (DP, NP, AdjP, DegP etc.), it is the semantics which acts as common denominator, i.e. the predication relation with its resulting propositional denotation.

Taking a different angle, Bruening (2018) likewise challenges an SC analysis of resultative constructions (She hammered the metal flat), caused motion constructions (Jerome waltzed Matilda across the room), particle verb constructions (They sponged the water up), and double object constructions (Melinda wrapped her friend a present). His main argument is that an SC analysis predicts wrong semantics, because it uncouples the object DP from the verb event by representing it exclusively as the subject of the SC: hammer [SC the metal flat]. Bruening (2018) thus confirms Marelj & Matushanky’s (2015) approach and removes further constructions from the domain originally claimed to involve SCs.4

While for Marelj & Matushanky (2015), Matushansky (2019) and Bruening (2018) there still remain genuine SCs in English and other languages, Chinese will be shown to lack SCs altogether, i.e. non-root clauses licensing the predicative function of an XP in a form unacceptable for the same XP when in a matrix context.5 This is independent of the approach chosen, SCs as a unique functional projection (e.g. PredP) or as extended projections of a lexical head.

3 Chinese translations of English SCs and alleged VP-SCs in Chinese

This section first examines how the different types of non-root SCs established for English are translated into Chinese and shows them to involve structures completely different from SCs. It then challenges the alleged existence of VP-SCs, still postulated in Chinese linguistics, despite the general consensus in the literature on SCs to exclude them (cf. Section 2.1 above).

3.1 Chinese translations of English SCs

Given the lack of SCs in Chinese, the reader might ask how the English sentences with non-root SCs in (5–9) are translated into Chinese. The more so as proponents of SCs in Chinese focus on adjectival SCs as in They consider [SC John intelligent] (cf. (17a) below), for the simple reason that the lexical items in the Chinese translation show the same linear order as in English. However, when going beyond the surface, we see that a different construction must be used for translating each type in (5–9), none of which involves an SC.

The Chinese equivalents of the English sentence (16a) with a denominative SC are given in (16b) and (16c):

    1. (16)
    1. a.
    1. They consider [SC John/him a genius].
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Tāmen
    2. 3PL
    1. rènwéi
    2. think
    1. [cl.compl.
    2.   Zhangsan
    1. Zhāngsān
    2.  
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. tiāncái].
    2. genius
    1. ‘They think that Zhangsan is a genius.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Tāmen
    2. 3PL
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. BA
    1. Zhāngsān
    2. Zhangsan
    1. dāng
    2. consider
    1. tiāncái].
    2. genius
    1. ‘They consider Zhangsan a genius.’

(16b) shows the verb rènwéi ‘think, assume’ that selects a clausal complement, with the obligatory copula shì ‘be’ and the nominal predicate. Unlike English John/him a genius, Zhāngsān shì tiāncái is a well-formed independent sentence: ‘Zhangsan is a genius’, hence not an SC. (Cf. Section 6 below for discussion of matrix sentences with copular verbs in Chinese). (16c) features the ditransitive verb dāng ‘take sb. for, treat as, consider as’, which requires the construction (also cf. Sections 5.2 and 5.3 below).

The Chinese equivalent (17b) of an adjectival SC in English (17a) does not feature an SC, either. For in Chinese, adjectives such as cōngmíng ‘be intelligent’ function as autonomous predicates, both in matrix clauses (cf. (17c) and in complement clauses (cf. (17b)) (cf. Section 4.2 below for further discussion):

    1. (17)
    1. a.
    1. They consider [SC John intelligent].
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Tāmen
    2. 3PL
    1. rènwéi
    2. think
    1. [cl.compl.
    2.  
    1. Zhāngsān
    2. Zhangsan
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. cōngmíng].
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘They think that Zhangsan is intelligent.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Zhāngsān
    2. Zhangsan
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. cōngmíng.
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘Zhangsan is intelligent.’

Concerning the English absolute construction [SC With Peter sick/out of office], we’ll never get the job done in time, it has has no Chinese equivalent.

For the English resultative SC in (18a), the Chinese equivalent (18b) once again features the construction with a ditransitive compound verb, selecting two nominal complements:

    1. (18)
    1. a.
    1. We painted [SC the barn red].
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Wǒmen
    2. 1PL
    1. [Ba-vP
    2.  
    1. BA
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. gǔcāng
    2. barn
    1. [
    2.  
    1. shuā-chéng]
    2. paint-become
    1. [
    2.  
    1. hóngsè ]].
    2. red.colour
    1. ‘We painted the barn red.’

Turning to subject and object depictives, the adjectival SC predicate in English subject depictives (19a) must be encoded in Chinese as a preverbal adverb or a preverbal adjunct clause (whose null subject is co-indexed with the matrix subject).

    1. (19)
    1. a.
    1. Hei ate the meatk [SC PROi nude].
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. i
    2. 3SG
    1. [adj.cl. PROi
    2.  
    1. guāng -zhe
    2. be.bare-IMP
    1. shēnzi]
    2. body
    1. chī
    2. eat
    1. ròu.
    2. meat
    1. ‘He eats meat nude.’

By contrast, there is no systematic correspondance in Chinese for English object depictive SCs as in (20a):

    1. (20)
    1. a.
    1. Hei ate the meatk [SC PROk raw].
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 3SG
    1. [
    2.  
    1. shēng-chī]
    2. raw    -eat
    1. niúròu.
    2. beef
    1. ‘He eats beef raw.’
    1. (21)
    1. a.
    1. %Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. rèrède
    2. hot
    1. drink
    1. 1
    1. bēi
    2. cup
    1. chá.
    2. tea
    1. (Zhu Dexi 1961: 4, footnote 3, slightly
    2. changed; also cf. Sobelman 1982)6
    1.   ‘She drank a cup of tea very hot.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. hē -le
    2. drink-PERF
    1. 1
    1. bēi
    2. cup
    1. rèrè
    2. hot
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. chá.
    2. tea
    1.   ‘She drank a cup of very hot tea.’
    1. (22)
    1. 3SG
    1. (*nóngnóngde)
    2.     strong
    1. brew
    1. -le
    2. -PERF
    1. 1
    1. pot
    1. nóngnóng
    2. strong
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. chá
    2. tea
    1. ‘She brewed a pot of strong tea.’7

(20b) features a verb compound shēng-chī ‘raw-eat’ = ‘eat sth. raw’, while in (21a) the object depicting ‘hot’ is rendered as an adverb, hence in preverbal position. The fact that this possibility is not available in (22) shows the idiosyncratic nature of this case; instead, nóngnóngde ‘strong’ must be encoded as a modifier of the object DP.7

The so-called “mad magazine” sentences [SC Me mad]?! Ridiculous are irrelevant for Chinese, given that adjectives can in any case function as predicates without the copula in both root and non-root contexts (cf. (17b–c) above).

To summarize, the Chinese translations of English sentences with non-root SCs display very different constructions, none of which involves an SC. While it is in principle possible that languages might have some cases of SCs without showing the entire array known from English, this is not the case in Chinese, which lacks SCs altogether.

3.2 VPs as SCs in Chinese?

Concerning constructions with bare VPs as complements of a small set of verbs (modals, perception verbs and causative verbs) such as Paul saw [SC Peter cross the street], they are in general not subsumed under SCs in English, because they show important differences, linked to v and the dichotomy external vs internal argument (cf. Section 2.1 above), with respect to the other types of SCs.

Notwithstanding this important insight, we encounter claims to the contrary in Chinese linguistics, a.o. in Yang Daran (2003) and Shen & Sybesma (2006), discussed below as per the request by an anonymous reviewer.

3.2.1 Causative constructions as VP-SCs (Yang Daran 2003)

Yang Daran (2003) is a good example to show that VP-SCs can only be postulated when taking the surface at face value and when completely glossing over the well-known existence in Chinese of null subjects, the absence of an embedding complementiser equivalent to English that and the lack of systematic overt differences between a finite and a non-finite form in Chinese. Without providing any arguments, he declares the causative structure (23) to be on a par with English Mary considers [AP Bill intelligent] and stipulates that shǐ ‘cause’ is a not further specified “light” ECM verb selecting a VP-SC, with the subject DP in SpecVP.

    1. (23)
    1. Xūxīn
    2. modesty
    1. [vP txuxin
    2.  
    1. [V’
    2.  
    1. shǐ
    2. make
    1. [VP-SC
    2.  
    1. rén
    2. people
    1. [V’
    2.  
    1. jìnbù ]]]].
    2. advance
    1. (Yang Daran 2003: 368–369;
    2. his bracketing)
    1. ‘Modesty makes people advance.’

Yang Daran (2003) omits to mention that the alleged SC Rén jìnbù ‘People advance.’ is a perfectly well-formed independent sentence. Nor does he discuss the prediction made by his structure in (23), viz. that nothing can intervene between the subject DP in SpecVP and the V-bar projection inside the alleged SC, a prediction straightforwardly invalidated by (24a–b) below. Furthermore, in contrast to what is suggested by his choice of examples with exclusively (surface) bare VP complements, shǐ and the other causative verbs mentioned, i.e. ràng, yào and lìng (not discussed here for reasons of space) all allow for adverbs, negation and aspect in their clausal complement:

    1. (24)
    1. a.
    1. Shǐ
    2. make
    1. [DP
    2.  
    1. xiānjìn
    2. advance
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. [NP Ø]] [ PRO
    2.  
    1. gèngjiā
    2. more
    1. xiānjìn ].
    2. advance
    1. (Lü Shuxiang 2000: 494;
    2. bracketing added)
    1. ‘Make the progressive ones advance even more.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Zhěme
    2. so
    1. wǎn
    2. late
    1. cái
    2. only
    1. dédào
    2. receive
    1. tōngzhī,
    2. information
    1. shǐ
    2. make
    1. 1SG
    1. méi
    2. NEG
    1. bànfǎ.
    2. solution
    1. ‘I received the information only very late, this leaves me without any way out.’           (literally: ‘…this makes me not having a solution.’)(Lü Shuxiang 2000: 303)
    1. (25)
    1. Zhè
    2. this
    1. piān
    2. CL
    1. wénzhāng […]
    2. article
    1. shǐ
    2. make
    1. 1SG
    1. gǎibiàn-le
    2. change-PERF
    1. zhǔyì.
    2. opinion
    1. ‘This article made me change my mind.’          (Liu Yuehua, Pan Wenyu & Gu Wei 2001: 711)

Examples of the type illustrated in (24)–(25) can be easily found in every good grammar manual. Once again, the complement clause is well-formed on its own, be it with a covert or an overt subject.

Accordingly, the causative construction can not be analysed as involving an SC complement with the causee as SC subject. Instead, the causative construction is a type of object control construction where shǐ ‘make, cause’ selects two arguments, the causee DP and a clausal complement with a covert subject co-indexed with the causee.8 In other words, causative verbs are not ECM verbs case-marking the subject DP of the embedded clause (cf. Y.-H. Audrey Li 1990: 133).

3.2.2 Resultative verb compounds as VP-SCs (Sybesma 1999; Shen & Sybesma 2006)

VP-SCs have also been invoked in the analysis of resultative verb compounds, viz. by Shen & Sybesma (2006), implementing Sybesma’s (1999) analysis.

    1. (26)
    1. a.
    1. Zhāng
    2. Zhang
    1. Sān
    2. San
    1. wipe
    1. -gān-le
    2. -dry-LE
    1. bōli.
    2. glass
    1. ‘Zhangsan has wiped the glass dry.’
    2. (Sybesma 1999: 76, (21a); his glosses and translation, tones added by me)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. [VP  ‘wipe’ [XP=SC [ le] [YP=SC [NP bōli ‘glass’] [ gān ‘dry’]]]]
    2. (Sybesma 1999: 76, (35))9

Sybesma (1999: 76) assigns the perfective aspect suffix -le (called “Realization” le) a function akin to that of Pred°: “[…] this [i.e. -le; WP] establishes a relationship between the two entities X and YP which is comparable to a predicational relationship, expressing that [boli gan] ‘the glass dry’ has realized”.10 As shown in (26b), Sybesma (1999: 75–76) postulates as many as two SCs here, without, however, providing any evidence in favour of this derivation: the head of the SC complement XP to the verb ‘wipe’ selects another SC, i.e. YP:

While the analysis of an SC as complement of AspP is already very unusual, it leads in addition to postulating SCs with a covert predicate (cf. (27b)), which is assigned the meaning of ‘finished’, given that (27a) “clearly involves an endpoint” (Sybesma 1999: 77):

    1. (27)
    1. a.
    1. Zhāng
    2. Zhang
    1. Sān
    2. San
    1. kàn -le
    2. read-LE
    1. zhèi-běn
    2. this -CL
    1. shū.
    2. book
    1. ‘Zhang San has read this book.’
    2. (Sybesma 1999: 77, (22e); his glosses and translation, tones added)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. [VP kàn ‘read’ [XP=SC [ le] [YP [NP shū ‘book’] [ Ø ‘finished’]]]]
    2. (Sybesma 1999: 79, (38))

Sybesma & Shen (2006) apply the same analysis to resultative verb compounds with a verb as second element (instead of an adjective as in (26b)):

    1. (28)
    1. a.
    1. Akiū
    2. Akiu
    1. chàng
    2. sing
    1. -kū-le.
    2. -cry-PERF
    1. ‘Akiu sang himself to tears.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. [V’ chàng ‘sing’ [SC=AspP [Asp° Ø/le] [SC=XP Akiū kū ‘cry’]]]
    2. (Sybesma & Shen 2006: 44, (18))

The structure (28b) – like (26b) and (27b) – not only requires left adjunction for the first step of head movement and then right adjunction for the second step, but in addition the SC subject Akiu must raise to Spec of the matrix TP. The head of the highest SC may again be either realized by -le or remain covert.

Besides the purely technical feasibility of this analysis and references to Hoekstra (1988) and Guéron & Hoekstra (1995), no independent empirical evidence from other phenomena in Mandarin Chinese is provided; the main motivation seems to be to implement Sybesma’s idea of “realization le” as the predicational head of a SC selecting another SC. Also note that the alleged lower SC in both (26) and (28) has a full-fledged predicate acceptable as such in root contexts, i.e. an adjective (gān ‘be dry’) in (26) and a verb ( ‘cry’) in (28)).

The various ad hoc stipulations required for an analysis of resultative verb compounds in terms of SCs appear unnecessary, given that alternative analyses exist (cf. a.o. Cheng & Huang 1995; Basciano 2010 and references therein).

To summarize, in Chinese as well, VP-SCs should be excluded as potential SC candidates, both for the empirical reasons outlined in this section and for the theoretical considerations involving the v/Voice head and the dichotomy external vs internal argument (cf. Section 2.1 above).

4 The repertoire of predicative XPs in Chinese

This section investigates which XPs can serve as autonomous predicates in Chinese matrix clauses and compares them with the XPs acceptable as predicates in non-root contexts, especially in secondary predicates. The result will be that if a category X is not licit as an autonomous predicate in matrix sentences, then X is not licit as predicate elsewhere, i.e. in non-root contexts, either.

4.1 Nominal projections: NPs, DPs, Number Phrases

4.1.1 NPs and DPs

In general, NPs and DPs (i.e. projections containing de instantiating different heads on the D-spine and proper names), require the copula shì ‘be’:

    1. (29)
    1. 3SG
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. {tiāncái /fǎguórén
    2.   genius/ French.person/
    1. /xuésheng
    2. student
    1. /Lì jiàoshòu /
    2. /Li professor/
    1. 1SG
    1. de péngyou}.
    2. SUB friend
    1. ‘She is a genius/French/a student/professor Li/ my friend.’

The absence of the copula is the exception and restricted to NPs in affirmative root-clauses (for non-root clauses, cf. (33a)–(33c) below):11

    1. (30)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. fǎguórén,
    2. French.person
    1. 3SG
    1. yīngguórén.
    2. English.person
    1. ‘She is French, I am English.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Sìchuān
    2. Sichuan
    1. [NP
    2.  
    1. hǎo
    2. good
    1. dìfāng].
    2. place
    1. ‘Sichuan is a good place.’

In the presence of negation, the copula is obligatory (cf. (31a–c)), whereas it is reported to be optional with adverbs (cf. Zhu Dexi 1984: 7), a judgement not shared by all speakers (cf. (32a–b)):

    1. (31)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. NEG
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. fǎguórén.
    2. French.person
    1. ‘She is not French.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Sìchuān
    2. Sichuan
    1. NEG
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. hǎo
    2. good
    1. dìfāng.
    2. place
    1. ‘Sichuan is not a good place.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. 3SG
    1. NEG
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. tiāncái/
    2. genius/
    1. xuésheng/
    2. student /
    1. Lì jiàoshòu /
    2. Li professor/
    1. 1SG
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. péngyou.
    2. friend
    1. ‘She is not a genius/ a student/professor Li/ my friend.’
    1. (32)
    1. a.
    1. 2SG
    1. jiǎnzhí
    2. simply
    1. %(shì)
    2.     be
    1. big
    1. shǎguā.
    2. fool
    1. ‘You’re simply a big fool.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 3SG
    1. also
    1. %(shì)
    2.     be
    1. guǎngdōngrén.
    2. Cantonese
    1. ‘He is Cantonese, too.’          (Zhu Dexi 1984: 7)

In non-matrix contexts, by contrast, the copula is always required for a nominal predicate; this holds for non-root clauses such as sentential subjects (33a) and complement clauses (33b) as well as for secondary predicates (33c):

    1. (33)
    1. a.
    1. [Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. fǎguórén
    2. French.person
    1. /Sìchuān
    2. /Sichuan
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. hǎo
    2. good
    1. dìfāng]
    2. place
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. dàjiā
    2. everybody
    1. dōu
    2. all
    1. zhīdao
    2. know
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. 1
    1. jiàn
    2. CL
    1. shì.
    2. matter
    1. (compare with (30a–b))
    2.  
    1. ‘That she is French/that Sichuan is a good place is something everybody knows.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 3SG
    1. shuō/
    2. say /
    1. yǐwéi
    2. think
    1. [nǐ
    2.   2SG
    1. %(shì)
    2.     be
    1. fǎguórén/
    2. French.person/
    1. Sìchuān
    2. Sichuan
    1. %(shì)
    2.     be
    1. hǎo
    2. good
    1. dìfāng].
    2. place
    1. ‘He says/thinks that you are French/that Sichuan is a good place.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. 1SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuéshēngi
    2. student
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. tiāncái/
    2. genius/
    1. bǎiwànfùwēng].
    2. millionaire
    1. ‘I have a student who is a genius/a millionaire.’

Note that some native speakers marginally accept the absence of the copula in complement clauses (cf. (33b)), but at the same time point out that in general the copula is obligatory here. Importantly, this root vs non-root asymmetry is exactly the opposite of the one expected under an SC scenario, where the non-root context should be the one with a reduced predicational structure, hence an optional copula, not an obligatory one. (Cf. English: John *(is) a genius vs They consider [John a genius].).

The copula is, however, always required in secondary predicates (cf. (33c)). While the precise structure of sentences with secondary predicates is discussed in Section 4.5 below, for the time being it suffices to know that the secondary predicate – notwithstanding its translation as a relative clause – is not a DP-internal modifier of the matrix object, but a separate constituent (cf. C.-T. James Huang 1984; 1987). Since secondary predicates on the object DP, also called descriptive clauses (cf. Li & Thompson 1981: 611; C.-T. James Huang 1987: 228), are the closest equivalent of object depictive SCs we have in Chinese, in the remaining sections secondary predicates will serve as testing ground for the (un)ability of XPs to function as predicates in non-root contexts.

4.1.2 Number Phrases

Number Phrases (NumP), i.e. phrases of the form ‘number classifier NP’, in general occur without the copula in affirmative clauses and are compatible with adverbs. This holds both for root clauses ((34a)–(36a)) and non-root clauses ((34b)–(36b)) (cf. Zhu Dexi 1982: 102–103):

    1. (34)
    1. a.
    1. Zhè
    2. this
    1. tái
    2. CL
    1. diànnǎo
    2. computer
    1. liùbǎi
    2. 600
    1. kuài
    2. CL
    1. qián.
    2. money
    1. ‘This computer costs 600 dollars.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 1SG
    1. zhīdao
    2. know
    1. [zhè
    2.   this
    1. tái
    2. CL
    1. diànnǎo
    2. computer
    1. liùbǎi
    2. 600
    1. kuài
    2. CL
    1. qián].
    2. money
    1. ‘I know that this computer costs 600 dollars.’
    1. (35)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. (zhènghǎo)
    2. exactly
    1. liǎng
    2. 2
    1. mǐ.
    2. meter
    1. ‘He’s (exactly) 2 meters tall.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. [Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. zhènghǎo
    2. exactly
    1. liǎng
    2. 2
    1. mǐ ]
    2. meter
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. dàjiā
    2. everybody
    1. dōu
    2. all
    1. zhīdao
    2. know
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. 1
    1. jiàn
    2. CL
    1. shì.
    2. matter
    1. ‘That he’s exactly 2 meters (tall) is something everybody knows.’
    1. (36)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. shíqī
    2. 17
    1. suì.
    2. year
    1. ‘She’s seventeen.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 1SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuéshēngi
    2. student
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. cái
    2. just
    1. shíqī
    2. 17
    1. suì]
    2. year
    1. ‘I have a student who is only seventeen.’

Unlike NPs, NumPs are fine as autonomous predicates in complement clauses (cf. (34b)), sentential subjects (cf. (35b)) and secondary predicates (cf. (36b)).

When negated, NumPs require either méi yǒu ‘not have’ or bù shì ‘not be’, the same holds for non-root clauses:

    1. (37)
    1. Zhè
    2. this
    1. tái
    2. CL
    1. diànnǎo
    2. computer
    1. NEG
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. liùbǎi
    2. 600
    1. kuài
    2. CL
    1. qián,
    2. money
    1. 2SG
    1. gǎocuò
    2. err
    1. -le.
    2. -PERF
    1. ‘This computer doesn’t cost 600 dollars, you got it wrong.’
    1. (38)
    1. 3SG
    1. méi
    2. NEG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. liǎng
    2. 2
    1. mǐ.
    2. meter
    1. ‘He’s not 2 meters (tall).’
    1. (39)
    1. 3SG
    1. hái
    2. still
    1. méi
    2. NEG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. wǔshí
    2. 50
    1. sui,
    2. year
    1. tóufǎ
    2. hair
    1. dōu
    2. all
    1. bái-le.
    2. white-PERF
    1. ‘He’s not yet fifty, and his hair is all white.’

The obligatory presence of the copula under negation with already observed above with NP predicates (cf. (31a–c)) confirms that requires a VP complement.

4.2 Adjectival Phrases

There are two classes of intersective adjectives in Chinese. (40a)–(40c) illustrate the adjectives functioning as autonomous predicates (labeled predicative adjectives by Chinese scholars) and corresponding to scalar adjectives:

    1. (40)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. fēicháng
    2. very
    1. cōngmíng /
    2. be.intelligent/
    1. NEG
    1. cōngmíng.
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘She is very intelligent/is not intelligent.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 3SG
    1. also
    1. NEG
    1. tài
    2. too
    1. mǎnyì.
    2. be.satisfied
    1. ‘She is not really satisfied, either.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. 1SG
    1. jīntiān
    2. today
    1. tèbié
    2. particularly
    1. máng.
    2. be.busy
    1. ‘I’m terribly busy today.’

(41a–c) feature the so-called non-predicative adjectives, corresponding to absolute adjectives, which occur in a “nominalized form” (cf. Paris 1979) and therefore require the copula shì. Recast in an analysis where the subordinator de instantiates different heads on the D-spine, among them Det°, this nominalized form is tentatively analysed as a DP with a covert NP complement: [DP adj [De’ de [NP Ø]]. (Cf. Paul 2012, 2017a for discussion of the subordinator de and the structure of DP.)12

    1. (41)
    1. a.
    1. Pánzi
    2. plate
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. [DP
    2.  
    1. fāng
    2. square
    1. [De’
    2.  
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. [NP Ø]].
    2.  
    1. ‘The plate is square.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Zhè
    2. this
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. shāndòng
    2. cave
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. tiānrán
    2. natural
    1. *(de).
    2.     SUB
    1. ‘This cave is natural.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. 3SG
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. yáchǐ
    2. tooth
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. jiǎ
    2. artificial
    1. *(de).
    2.     SUB
    1. ‘His teeth are artificial.’

Note that so far the literature has not provided a more precise analysis than Paris’ (1979) nominalization approach; shì ‘be’ …. de is often presented as a “discontinuous” constituent, given that both are obligatory (cf. (41b–c)).

Returning to predicative adjectives, since, as their name suggests, they are autonomous predicates, they combine directly with negation and adverbs (cf. (40a)–(40c) above) and are incompatible with the copula shì ‘be’:13

    1. (42)
    1. 3SG
    1. (*shì)
    2.   be
    1. {fēicháng
    2.   very
    1. cōngmíng
    2. be.intelligent/
    1. /bù
    2. NEG
    1. cōngmíng}.14
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘She is very intelligent/is not intelligent.’

By contrast, with non-predicative adjectives, it is the copula shì as verbal head that is negated or modified by adverbs (cf. (43), (44)). Requiring a nominal projection as complement, the copula is incompatible with an adjectival complement (cf. (45)):

    1. (43)
    1. Pánzi
    2. plate
    1. also
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. [DP
    2.  
    1. fāng
    2. square
    1. de ].
    2. SUB
    1. ‘The plate is square, too.’
    1. (44)
    1. Zhè
    2. this
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. shāndòng
    2. cave
    1. NEG
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. [DP
    2.  
    1. tiānrán
    2. natural
    1. de].
    2. SUB
    1. ‘This cave is not natural.’
    1. (45)
    1. 3SG
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. yáchǐ
    2. tooth
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. [DP
    2.  
    1. jiǎ
    2. artificial
    1. de ]
    2. SUB
    1. /*[Adj°
    2.  
    1. jiǎ ].
    2. artificial
    1. ‘His teeth are artificial.’

When functioning as secondary predicates for object DPs, the same facts hold: predicative adjectives are acceptable on their own and exclude the copula shì ‘be’ (cf. (46)), whereas non-predicative adjectives appear in the nominalized form and require the copula shì ‘be’ (cf. (47)), exactly as in matrix contexts:

    1. (46)
    1. 3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. [sān
    2.   3
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuésheng]i
    2. student
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. (*shì)
    2.     be
    1. fēicháng
    2. very
    1. cōngmíng
    2. be.intelligent/
    1. / lǎnduò].
    2. be.lazy
    1. ‘She has three students who are very intelligent/lazy.’
    1. (47)
    1. 3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have/
    1. /mǎi-le
    2. buy-PERF
    1. [jǐ
    2.   several
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. pánzi]i
    2. plate
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. fāng
    2. square
    1. *(de)].
    2.     SUB
    1. ‘He has/bought several plates which are square.’15
    1. (48)
    1. 3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. [sān
    2.   3
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. yáchǐ]i
    2. tooth
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. jiǎ
    2. artificial
    1. *(de)].
    2.     SUB
    1. ‘He has three teeth which are artificial.’

Incidentally, the obligatoriness of shì ‘be’ in (47)–(48) substantiates Matushansky’s (2019: 84) stand against the presence of a null Pred° in SCs. If indeed there were a null Pred°, it should be capable of turning any intersective adjective into a predicate, which is visibly not the case. Instead, an overt copula is required for the class of non-predicative intersective adjectives.15

The situation for adjectives thus confirms our observations for nominal projections, viz. that there are no differences between root and non-root contexts for their predicative function.

However, an anonymous reviewer points to a possible semantic asymmetry between root and non-root contexts and suggests this as potential evidence in favour of adjectival SCs. The starting point is the well-known fact that in Chinese, a bare scalar adjective as predicate in general conveys the comparative degree:

    1. (49)
    1. Tāmen
    2. 3PL
    1. shéi
    2. who
    1. gāo?
    2. tall
    1. Lǎo
    2. Lao
    1. Èr
    2. Er
    1. gāo.
    2. tall
    1. (Chao Yuen Ren 1968: 683)
    2.  
    1. ‘Which of them is taller? Lao Er is taller.’

Accordingly, the same bare form occurs with an explicit standard of comparison:

    1. (50)
    1. Lǎo
    2. Lao
    1. Èr
    2. Er
    1. [AdjP [PP
    2.  
    1. compared.with
    1. Lǎo
    2. Lao
    1. Lǐ]
    2. Li
    1. gāo].
    2. tall
    1. ‘Lao Er is taller than Lao Li.’

When modified by degree adverbs (hěn ‘very’, tèbié ‘particularly’, tài ‘too’), adjectives only give rise to the positive degree interpretation. Furthermore, when hěn ‘very’ is not stressed, it does not add any lexical meaning and therefore remains untranslated, in contrast to the other degree adverbs (cf. Paul 2015: 151–156 for discussion and references; also cf. C.-S. Luther Liu 2018).

    1. (51)
    1. Lǎo
    2. Lao
    1. Èr
    2. Er
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. gāo/
    2. tall/
    1. tèbié
    2. particularly
    1. gāo.
    2. tall
    1. ‘Lao Er is tall/particularly tall.’

Interestingly, in some non-root contexts such as complement clauses and conditional clauses, a bare adjective can be interpreted in the positive degree:

    1. (52)
    1. a.
    1. 1SG
    1. rènwèi/zhīdao
    2. think /know
    1. [claus.cpl.
    2.  
    1. zhōngguó
    2. China
    1. dà].16
    2. be.big
    1. ‘I think/know that China is big [not: ‘bigger’].’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Zhāngsān
    2. Zhangsan
    1. yàoshì
    2. if
    1. lìnsè
    2. stingy
    1. dehuà,
    2. SFP
    1. jiù
    2. then
    1. NEG
    1. huì
    2. will
    1. qǐng
    2. invite
    1. 2SG
    1. chī
    2. eat
    1. fàn.
    2. food
    1. ‘If Zhangsan is stingy [not: ‘more stingy’], he will not treat you to dinner.’
    2. (C.-S. Luther Liu 2010: 1019, (26d))

However, bare adjectives in matrix clauses can likewise indicate the positive rather than the comparative degree. This is the case in coordinations (53), in yes/no questions (54a) and under negation (54b):

    1. (53)
    1. Zhèi
    2. this
    1. běn
    2. CL
    1. shū
    2. book
    1. guì,
    2. expensive
    1. nèi
    2. that
    1. běn
    2. CL
    1. piányi.
    2. cheap
    1. (Paris 1989: 113, (54))
    2.  
    1. ‘This book is expensive, that one is cheap.’
    2. (Not: ‘This book is more expensive, that one is cheaper.’)
    1. (54)
    1. a.
    1. Zhèi
    2. this
    1. běn
    2. CL
    1. shū
    2. book
    1. guì
    2. expensive
    1. ma?
    2. SFP
    1. b.
    2.  
    1. (Zhèi
    2.   this
    1. běn
    2. CL
    1. shū)
    2. book
    1. NEG
    1. guì.
    2. expensive
    1. ‘Is this book expensive? This book is not expensive.’
    2. (Not: ‘Is this book more expensive? This book is not more expensive.’)

Accordingly, the occasional possibility of a positive degree interpretation for bare adjectives in some non-root contexts can not be (mis)taken as evidence in favour of a systematic root vs non-root asymmetry and hence as evidence for the existence of adjectival SCs.

4.3 Adpositional Phrases

There is ample evidence for the existence of both prepositions and postpositions in Chinese (pace a.o. Huang, Li & Li 2009; Cheng & Sybesma 2015). For detailed discussion and references, cf. Ernst (1988); Djamouri & Paul (1997; 2009); Djamouri, Paul & Whitman (2013); Paul (2015, chapters 3 and 4).

4.3.1 Prepositional Phrases

In general, PPs cannot function as predicates. Accordingly, they are unacceptable as secondary predicates as well:

    1. (55)
    1. a.
    1. *Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. [PP
    2.  
    1. cóng
    2. from
    1. Běijīng].
    2. Beijing
    1.   (Intendend: ‘She is from Beijing.’)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. sān
    2. 3
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuésheng
    2. student
    1. [PROi [PP
    2.  
    1. cóng
    2. from
    1. Běijīng]].
    2. Beijing
    1.   (Intendend: ‘She has three students who are from Beijing.’)
    1. (56)
    1. a.
    1. *Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. [PP
    2.  
    1. gēn
    2. with
    1. yǐngxīng].
    2. movie.star
    1.   (Intended: ‘He is with, i.e. in the company of movie stars.’)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Wǒ
    2.   3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. péngyoui
    2. friend
    1. [PROi [PP
    2.  
    1. gēn
    2. with
    1. yǐngxīng]].
    2. movie.star
    1.   (Intended: ‘He has a friend who is with movie stars.’)

Instead, a PP is licit e.g. as an vP-adjunct (cf. (57a), (58a)) with the entire vP evidently acceptable as secondary predicate (cf. (57b), (58b)):

    1. (57)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. yīzhí
    2. always
    1. [vP [PP
    2.  
    1. gēn
    2. with
    1. yǐngxīng ]
    2. movie.star
    1. zài
    2. be.at
    1. yīqǐ ]]].
    2. together
    1. ‘She is all the time with movie stars (i.e. in their company).’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. péngyou
    2. friend
    1. [PROi [vP
    2.  
    1. yīzhí
    2. always
    1. [vP [PP
    2.  
    1. gēn
    2. with
    1. yǐngxīng]
    2. movie.star
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. be.at
    1. yīqǐ ]]]].
    2. together
    1. ‘I have a friend who is all the time with movie stars.’
    1. (58)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. [vP [PP
    2.  
    1. cóng
    2. from
    1. Běijīng]
    2. Beijing
    1. huílái].
    2. return
    1. ‘She has returned from Beijing.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. sān
    2. 3
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuésheng
    2. student
    1. [PROi [vP [PP
    2.  
    1. cóng
    2. from
    1. Běijīng]
    2. Beijing
    1. huílái]].
    2. return
    1. ‘She has three students who have come back from Beijing.’

Finally, the presence of the copula shì ‘be’ has no influence on the non-predicative function of spatial prepositions such as cóng ‘from’, gēn ‘with, in the company of’:

    1. (59)
    1. a.
    1. *Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. (shì)
    2.   be
    1. [PP
    2.  
    1. cóng
    2. from
    1. Běijīng].
    2. Beijing
    1.   (Intendend: She is from Beijing.’)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. (shì)
    2.   be
    1. [PP
    2.  
    1. gēn
    2. with
    1. tāmen ]].
    2. 3PL
    1.   (Intended: She is with them, i.e. in their company.’)

The situation is more complex for prepositions such as yīnwèi ‘because of’, wèile ‘for (the sake of)’, guānyú ‘about, concerning’ (tentatively characterized as “abstract” prespositions here). While they are again illicit as autonomous predicates, they are acceptable as complement of the copula:

    1. (60)
    1. a.
    1. *Zhè
    2.   this
    1. dōu
    2. all
    1. [PP
    2.  
    1. yīnwèi
    2. because.of
    1. 2SG
    1. /wèile
    2. /for
    1. nǐ].
    2. 2SG
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Zhè
    2.   this
    1. dōu
    2. all
    1. [shì
    2.   be
    1. [PP
    2.  
    1. yīnwèi
    2. because.of
    1. 2SG
    1. / wèile
    2. / for
    1. nǐ]].
    2. 2SG
    1.   ‘This is all because of you/for your sake.’
    1. (61)
    1. a.
    1. *Zhè
    2.   this
    1. běn
    2. CL
    1. shū
    2. book
    1. [PP
    2.  
    1. guānyú
    2. concerning
    1. Chomsky].
    2. Chomsky
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Zhè
    2.   this
    1. běn
    2. CL
    1. shū
    2. book
    1. [shì
    2.   be
    1. [DP [PP
    2.  
    1. guānyú
    2. concerning
    1. Chomsky]
    2. Chomsky
    1. de]].
    2. SUB
    1.   ‘This book is about Chomsky.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1.   Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. duō
    2. much
    1. shū
    2. book
    1. [shì
    2.   be
    1. [DP [PP
    2.  
    1. guānyú
    2. concerning
    1. Chomsky]
    2. Chomsky
    1. de]].
    2. SUB
    1.   ‘She has a lot of books about Chomsky.’

Importantly, the presence of the universal quantifier dōu is required by some speakers for the acceptability of (60b), for unknown reasons. In (61b), the PP appears in the same structure as the non-predicative (intersective) adjectives (cf. (43)–(45) above), i.e. it must be embedded in a DP which in turn is selected as complement of the copula. As to be expected, shì guānyú Chomsky de ‘be about Chomsky’ is fine as a secondary predicate as well (cf. (61c)).17

4.3.2 Postpositional Phrases

Like PPs, Postpositional Phrases (PostPs), can not function as predicates; instead, spatial PostPs must be selected as complement by a stance verb such as zài ‘be at’ (not to be confounded with the homophonous preposition zài ‘at’).18 Again, the presence of the copula shì ‘be’ does not “save” the sentence.

    1. (62)
    1. a.
    1. *Fángzi
    2.   house
    1. (shì)
    2.   be
    1. [PostP
    2.  
    1. cónglín
    2. forest
    1. páng/
    2. near /
    1. sān
    2. 3
    1. gōnglǐ
    2. km
    1. wài].
    2. beyond
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Fángzi
    2.   house
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. be.at
    1. [PostP
    2.  
    1. cónglín
    2. forest
    1. páng/
    2. near /
    1. sān
    2. 3
    1. gōnglǐ
    2. km
    1. wài]].
    2. beyond
    1.   ‘The house is near the forest/more than three km away.’
    1. (63)
    1. a.
    1. *Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. fángzii
    2. house
    1. [PROi [PostP
    2.  
    1. cónglín
    2. forest
    1. páng/
    2. near /
    1. sān
    2. 3
    1. gōnglǐ
    2. km
    1. wài]].
    2. beyond
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. fángzi
    2. house
    1. [PROi [vP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. be.at
    1. [PostP
    2.  
    1. cónglín
    2. forest
    1. páng/
    2. near /
    1. sān
    2. 3
    1. gōnglǐ
    2. km
    1. wài]]].
    2. beyond
    1.   ‘He has a house near the forest/more than three km away.’

By contrast, temporal PostPs such as sān nián yǐqián ‘three years ago’, sān tiān yǐhòu ‘three days later’ can neither be the complement of the verb zài ‘be at’ nor of the copula shì ‘be’:19

    1. (64)
    1. *Zhè
    2.   this
    1. jiàn
    2. CL
    1. shì
    2. matter
    1. {zài /shì}
    2.   be.at/be
    1. [PostP
    2.  
    1. [sān
    2. 3
    1. nián]
    2. year
    1. yǐqián] / [PostP
    2. ago
    1. [sān
    2.   3
    1. tiān]
    2. day
    1. yǐhòu].
    2. later
    1.   (Intended: ‘This matter was three years ago/three days later.’)

Interestingly, PostPs with a NumP complement are acceptable as predicate for some speakers, on par with the acceptability of NumPs as autonomous predicates discussed in Section 4.1.2 above and illustrated in (65a–b) below. As to be expected, when for a given speaker such a PostP is accepted or rejected as autonomous predicate in a matrix sentence (cf. (66a)), then it is likewise accepted or rejected as secondary predicate (cf. (66b)):

    1. (65)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. jiǔshí
    2. 90
    1. fēn
    2. point
    1. yǐshàng.
    2. above
    1. ‘She has more than 90 points.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuéshēngi
    2. student
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. jiǔshí
    2. 90
    1. fēn
    2. point
    1. yǐshàng].
    2. above
    1. ‘She has a student who has more than 90 points.’
    1. (66)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. {Ø/zài}
    2. be.at
    1. [PostP [NumP
    2.  
    1. jiǔshí
    2. 90
    1. fēn]
    2. point
    1. yǐshàng].
    2. above
    1. ‘She’s above 90 points.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuéshēngi
    2. student
    1. [PROi {Ø/zài}
    2. be.at
    1. [PostP [NumP
    2.  
    1. jiǔshí
    2. 90
    1. fēn]
    2. point
    1. yǐshàng]].
    2. above
    1. ‘She has a student who is above 90 points.’

Like temporal PostPs, PostPs with a (non-temporal) NumP complement are incompatible with the copula shì ‘be’:

    1. (67)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. [PostP [NumP
    2.  
    1. sānshí
    2. 30
    1. suì ]
    2. year
    1. zuǒyòu]].
    2. approximately
    1. ‘He is about 30 years old.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Tā
    2. 3SG
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. [PostP [NumP
    2.  
    1. sānshí
    2. 30
    1. suì ]
    2. year
    1. zuǒyòu]]].
    2. approximately

Again, the same incompatibility holds for secondary predicates.

4.4 Interim summary

We have seen that like verbs, scalar adjectives function as predicates, exclude the copula and are directly negated with . This holds both for root and non-root contexts (e.g. sentential subjects, complement clauses, secondary predicates).

Among the nominal projections, NumPs are licit predicates in root and non-root contexts. When negated, however, NumPs either require the negated copula bù shì ‘not be’ (bù shì NumP) or the negated form of the verb yǒu ‘have’, i.e. méi yǒu ‘not have’ (méi yǒu NumP). NPs, but not DPs, may sometimes function as predicates on their own, but this constrained possibility is limited to root contexts. In non-root contexts, the copula shì ‘be’ is obligatory.20 The copula is also required for negation, irrespective of root or non-root context.

The predicative function is in general excluded for Adpositional Phrases (AdpPs), notwithstanding the presence of the copula shì ‘be’. More precisely, there are only very few cases of well-formed PP-predicates involving the copula shì ‘be’, and the conditions at work here are unclear. Concerning PostPs, they are incompatible with the copula shì. Some native speakers accept PostPs with a NumP complement as autonomous predicates in both root and non-root contexts, treating them on a par with NumPs.

Crucially, the constraints holding for a given XP as predicate in a non-root context are the same as those holding in root contexts, i.e. an XP unacceptable as predicate in root contexts is likewise unacceptable as predicate in non-root contexts. NP predicates are an exception here, insofar as the copula is required in non-root contexts, while sometimes optional in root contexts. Importantly, this asymmetry is exactly the opposite of what is observed for SC predicates in e.g. English, where an NP is licit without a copula only in the non-root SC context, but requires the copula in root contexts.

4.5 The structure of sentences with secondary predicates

So far, secondary predicates have served as the non-root context par exellence when checking the possible predicative function of lexical XPs in root and non-root contexts. The analysis of the constitutent XP following the matrix object in structures such as (68a)–(68d) as a secondary predicate goes back to C.-T. James Huang (1984; 1987). He provides three arguments against the analysis of this XP as a DP-internal modifier; while some of his observations have been questioned in the meantime, his overall analysis still remains unchallenged.

First, Huang (1987: 231–232) observes that the acceptability of a secondary predicate depends on the properties of the matrix VP. Besides yǒu ‘have’, other transitive verbs are allowed when suffixed with the perfective aspect -le or the experiential aspect -guo. Verbs with the progressive aspect zài in general exclude a secondary predicate on the matrix object (cf. (68d–e)):21

    1. (68)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. mèimeii
    2. younger.sister
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. at
    1. měiguó
    2. USA
    1. xuéxí /
    2. study/
    1. fēicháng
    2. extremely
    1. cōngmíng].
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘He has a younger sister, who studies in the USA/who is extremely intelligent.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 3SG
    1. chǎo-le
    2. fry    -PERF
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. cài
    2. dish
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. fēicháng
    2. extremely
    1. hǎochī].
    2. be.delicious
    1. ‘He prepared a dish, which is extremely delicious.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. 3SG
    1. jiāo
    2. teach
    1. -guo
    2. -EXP
    1. yi
    2. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuéshēngi
    2. student
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. fēicháng
    2. extremely
    1. cōngmíng].
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘He has taught a student, who was extremely clever.’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. 3SG
    1. zài
    2. PROGR
    1. jiāo
    2. teach
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuéshēngi
    2. student
    1. (*[PROi
    2.  
    1. fēicháng
    2. extremely
    1. cōngmíng]).
    2. be.intelligent
    1. (Intended: He’s teaching a student, who is extremely clever.’)
    1.  
    1. e.
    1. 3SG
    1. zài
    2. PROGR
    1. chǎo
    2. fry
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. cài
    2. dish
    1. (*[PROi
    2.  
    1. fēicháng
    2. extremely
    1. hǎochī]).
    2. be.delicious
    1. ‘He is preparing a dish (which is extremely delicious.’)

Huang (1987: 231) tries to capture the common factor of these different VP formats by stating that “the verbs used all have to do with ‘existence’ of some sort”, while being very well aware of existing counterexamples.22 For the purpose of this article, his approximation is sufficient, because the aim is to show that the format of the predicate is the same in both matrix and secondary predicates, independently of the conditions under which a secondary predicate is possible. Note that no more accurate analyses have been proposed since Huang (1987).

Second, there is also a constraint on the object DP itself in order to be compatible with a secondary predicate: it must be specific indefinite, to the exclusion of definite DPs and non-referential bare nouns (cf. Huang 1987: 249):23

    1. (69)
    1. 3SG
    1. jiāo -guo
    2. teach-EXP
    1. {yī
    2.   1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuéshengi/
    2. student /
    1. *nà
    2.   that
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuéshengi/
    2. student /
    1. *xuéshengi}
    2.   student
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. fēicháng
    2. extremely
    1. cōngmíng].
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘I have taught a student/this student/students, who was/were very clever.’          (Huang 1987: 248, (82a–b); combined with his (74), p. 244))

Third, a secondary predicate is excluded from wh-questions (Huang 1987: 249, (86)):

    1. (70)
    1. *Nǐ
    2.   2SG
    1. shénme
    2. what
    1. shíhou
    2. time
    1. jiaō  -guo
    2. teach-EXP
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. rén
    2. person
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. fēicháng
    2. extremey
    1. cōngmíng] ?
    2. be.intelligent
    1.   (‘When did you teach a certain person, who was very clever?’)

Note, finally, that only postverbal DPs allow for a secondary predicate.

None of these constraints hold for DP-internal modifiers followed by de; a DP-internal modifier XP does not depend on the aspectual nature of the VP nor on the specificity of the DP and the position (pre- vs postverbal) it occurs in, and a modified DP is naturally acceptable in a wh-question:

    1. (71)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. {zài
    2. PROGR
    1. jiāo
    2. teach/
    1. /jiāo-guo}
    2. teach-EXP
    1. {yī
    2.   1
    1. ge/
    2. CL/
    1. that
    1. ge}
    2. CL
    1. [DeP
    2.  
    1. [tèbié
    2.   particularly
    1. cōngmíng ]
    2. be.intelligent
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. xuésheng].
    2. student
    1. ‘He {is teaching/taught} {a/that} particularly clever student.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. 3SG
    1. {zài
    2. PROGR
    1. chǎo/
    2. fry /
    1. chǎo-le }
    2. fry-PERF
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. [DP
    2.  
    1. [fēicháng
    2.   extremely
    1. hǎochī]
    2. delicious
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. cài ].
    2. dish
    1. ‘He is preparing/has prepared a dish which is extremely delicious.’

For all these reasons Huang (1984; 1987) adopts an analysis of the XP following the matrix object DP as a secondary predicate, which does not form a constituent with the object DP. Instead, the matrix verb, the matrix object DP and the secondary predicate are “dominated by VP”, hence are “sisters to the verb” (Huang 1987: 232–233).24 This also allows him to maintain the robust generalization that in Chinese, the modifier always precedes the modifiee in the nominal projection.

Taking up Chomsky’s (1980) observation that a purposive clause is a predication on a main clause NP, Huang (1984: 569; 1987: 252: fn 5) proposes an analysis of the secondary predicates in Chinese on a par with purposive clauses and analyses them as CPs. The empty category in object position is analysed as a variable bound by an abstract operator in the embedded C, which in turn is coindexed with the matrix object by the Generalized Control Rule (GCR).25

    1. (72)
    1. Zhāngsān
    2. Zhangsan
    1. [VP
    2.  
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. [yī
    2.   1
    1. běn
    2. CL
    1. shū]i
    2. book
    1. [CP
    2.  
    1. OPi
    2.  
    1. [TP
    2.  
    1. 1SG
    1. kàn-bù
    2. see-NEG-
    1. -dǒng eci]]]
    2. understand
    1. ‘Zhangsan has a book, which I don’t understand.’
    1. (Huang 1984: 569, (94); labelled bracketing added)

Huang’s (1984; 1987) structure in (72) has basically remained unchallenged up to today, as witnessed by a.o. Lin Jo-wang & Tsai Wei-tian (2015: 117) who maintain his operator analysis and treat secondary predicates as “integrated non-restrictives of some sort”. Note that they do not address at all the internal structure and label of the projection including the verb, the matrix object DP and the secondary predicate, although it is evident that Huang’s analysis from back in the 1980’s with a ternary-branching VP can no longer hold. Before addressing this latter issue, let us first examine the size/projection of the secondary predicate.

The CP analysis of purposive clauses raises a number of problems. It is unclear what the status of abstract operators is within the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995 and his subsequent works). On the empirical side, as argued for by Wei Haley Wei & Y.-H. Audrey Li (2018), the size of purposive clauses with a null subject in Chinese cannot be CP, given that e.g. topicalization is only possible to a position in the matrix clause, not within the purposive clause:

    1. (73)
    1. a.
    1.   Wǒmen
    2.   1PL
    1. huì
    2. will
    1. jìn
    2. invest
    1. yīqiè
    2. all
    1. lìliàng
    2. effort
    1. [lái
    2.   in.order.to
    1. wánchéng
    2. accomplish
    1. [zhè
    2.   this
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. jìhuà]].
    2. plan
    1.   ‘We will make all efforts to accomplish this project.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Wǒmen
    2.   1PL
    1. huì
    2. will
    1. jìn
    2. invest
    1. yīqiè
    2. all
    1. lìliàng
    2. effort
    1. [lái
    2.   in.order.to
    1. [zhè
    2.   this
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. jìhuà]
    2. plan
    1. wánchéng].
    2. accomplish
    1.  
    1. c.
    1.   Wǒmen
    2.   1PL
    1. [zhè
    2.   this
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. jìhuà]
    2. plan
    1. huì
    2. will
    1. jìn
    2. invest
    1. yīqiè
    2. all
    1. lìliàng
    2. effort
    1. [lái
    2.   in.order.to
    1. wánchéng].
    2. accomplish
    1.   ‘We will make all efforts to accomplish this project.’          (Wei & Li 2018: 318, (45))

In addition, while manner adverbs and adjunct PPs and NPs are allowed, higher adverbs and auxiliaries are excluded from purposive clauses:26

    1. (74)
    1. a.
    1.   Wǒ
    2.   1SG
    1. yào
    2. want
    1. mǎi
    2. buy
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. hànbǎo
    2. hamburger
    1. [(lái)
    2.   in.order.to
    1. [zài
    2.   at
    1. jiālǐ]
    2. home
    1. mànmànde
    2. slowly
    1. chī].
    2. eat
    1.   ‘I want to buy a hamburger to eat slowly at home.’          (Wei & Li 2018: 319, (49b))
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Wǒ
    2.   1SG
    1. mǎi
    2. buy
    1. hànbǎo
    2. hamburger
    1. [(lái)
    2.   in.order.to
    1. {ǒu’ér
    2.   occasionally
    1. / yào }
    2. /will
    1. chī].
    2. eat
    1.   (Wei & Li 2018: 319, (44a) combined with (50))

Wei & Li (2018) show that these constraints hold for purposives irrespective of the presence or absence of lái ‘in order to’. While a purposive headed by lái projects a PredP (with lái as Pred°), a “bare” purposive without lái ‘in order to’ projects a vP. Importantly, both types of purposives are first merged with the verb, just like control complements. The resulting projection merges with the matrix object DP:

    1. (75)
    1. [vP V [VP DP [ V [purposive clause (lái)…….]]]]
    2. (Wei & Li 2018: 321, (54))

Purposives thus correspond to infinitival complements of control verbs such as kāishǐ ‘begin’, jìxù ‘continue’, which have the size of vP according to Huang (2017), not to the larger projection selected as complement of control verbs such as jìhuà ‘plan’, zhǔnbèi ‘prepare’, which allow topicalization within their control clause (Wei & Li 2018: 317, (41)):

    1. (76)
    1. %Zhāngsān
    2.   Zhangsan
    1. jìhuà
    2. plan
    1. [WollP
    2.  
    1. [nà
    2. that
    1. mén
    2. CL
    1. kè ]
    2. course
    1. míngnián
    2. next.tear
    1. zài
    2. then
    1. xuǎn
    2. choose
    1. [nà mén kè]]27
    2.   that CL course
    1.   ‘Zhangsan plans to take that course next year.

While topicalization in (76) is subject to variation among native speakers, the contrast with (73b) above nevertheless demonstrates that topicalization can serve as a diagnostic for different types of complements. Also note that according to Huang (2017), the acceptability of topicalization inter alia patterns with the presence of auxiliaries such as yào ‘will’.

As demonstrated below, while disallowing topicalization (cf. (77b)), secondary predicates can feature auxiliaries (cf. (77a)), aspectual suffixes (cf. (78)) and negation (cf. (79)) and thus differ both from purposives (excluding auxiliaries) and the WollP control complements (allowing for topicalization):28

    1. (77)
    1. a.
    1.   Wǒ
    2.   1SG
    1. pèngdào-le
    2. meet      -PERF
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. réni
    2. person
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. néng
    2. can
    1. jiějué
    2. solve
    1. [nèi
    2.   that
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. wèntí]].
    2. problem
    1.   ‘I met someone who can solve that problem.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Wǒ
    2.   1SG
    1. pèngdào-le
    2. meet -PERF
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. réni
    2. person
    1. [[nèi
    2.     that
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. wèntí ]
    2. problem
    1. PROi
    2.  
    1. néng
    2. can
    1. jiějué
    2. solve
    1. nèi ge wèntí].
    2. that CL problem
    1.  
    1. c.
    1.   [Nèi
    2.   that
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. wèntí]
    2. problem
    1. 1SG
    1. pèngdào-le
    2. meet      -PERF
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. réni
    2. person
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. néng
    2. can
    1. jiějué
    2. solve
    1. nèi ge wèntí].
    2. that CL problem
    1.   ‘That problem, I met someone who can solve [it].’
    1. (78)
    1. 3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. 1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. érzi
    2. son
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. jīnnián
    2. this.year
    1. kǎoshàng
    2. pass.exam
    1. -le
    2. -PERF
    1. Běidà].
    2. Peking.University
    1. ‘He has a son, who succeeded in the entrance exam for Peking University this year.’
    1. (79)
    1. 3SG
    1. yǒu
    2. have
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. érzi
    2. son
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. NEG
    1. xǐhuān
    2. like
    1. xuéxí].
    2. study
    1. ‘He has a son, who doesn’t like to study.’

Allowing for auxiliaries and aspectual suffixes, a secondary predicate is thus clearly larger than purposives (vP or PrdP according to Wei & Li 2018). At the same time, it lacks a projection able to host a topicalized DP, unlike the WollP complement. The secondary predicate can therefore be plausibly assumed to project a TP with an always covert subject.

Concerning the hierarchical position of the secondary predicate in the sentence, it must be merged with either VP or vP. Merging with a higher projection in TP is excluded by the overall syntax of Chinese, where due to the systematic head-initiality of the extended verbal projection (including TP), postverbal material must be merged within the VP, as emphasized by Huang (1987: 232) himself: “That the XP [i.e. the secondary predicate; WP] when it appears, is under VP, but not immediately under S, is assumed in all discussions.”29

Two scenarios are possible: either the secondary predicate is merged with the verb, as proposed for purposive clauses by Wei & Li 2018 (cf. (80a)), or it is merged with the VP (cf. (80b)). Merging with vP (or AspP) is not an option, because it would make it difficult to rule out adjunction of adverbial XPs, which are completely excluded from the postverbal position, a very robust fact of Chinese syntax known since Huang (1982) (cf. Paul 2017b for discussion and references).

    1. (80)
    1. a.
    1.  
    1. b.

Concerning (80a), it is not clear whether the secondary predicate should be likened to a purposive control clause, i.e. to a complement of the verb (cf. (75) above), complementation and predication not being the same.

This potential problem does not arise for (80b), where the secondary predicate TP is merged with VP (also cf. Irimia 2005). PRO within the secondary predicate TP is coindexed with the matrix object via “cyclic” or “weak” c-command and a predicative relation is established. (For the relevance of “weak” c-command in Chinese, cf. Huang, Li & Li 2009: 335). For the resulting projection, the label TP seems plausible, thus leading to a configuration where the matrix verb (raised to v) now combines with a clausal complement.

It is correct that Huang (1987) rejected such an analysis on the grounds of problems with subcategorization, because the open class of transitive verbs would have to be stipulated to select a clausal complement instead of a DP, provided the latter is followed by a secondary predicate. However, he also noted that the various constraints holding for the aspect type in the VP allowing for a secondary predicate on its object DP (cf. (68) above) as well as the unacceptability of secondary predicates in wh-questions (cf. (70) above) can in any case not be captured by the selectional restrictions imposed by a transitive verb. Last, but not least, for sentences with the existential verb yǒu ‘exist’ as matrix verb, Huang (1987: 236; 1988: 57) himself tentatively suggested an analysis of the secondary predicate and the matrix object as constituting a clause:30

    1. (81)
    1. Yǒu
    2. exist
    1. [IP
    2.  
    1. [yī
    2.   1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. rén]
    2. person
    1. [zài
    2. be.at
    1. jiàoshì
    2. classroom
    1. lǐ ]].
    2. in
    1. Huang (1988: 57)30
    2.  
    1. ‘There is someone in the classroom.’

Further research must decide between the configurations (80a) and (80b), because the few studies on secondary predicates after Huang (1987) (cf. a.o. Tsai 1994; Lin & Tsai 2015) never address the precise hierarchical position of secondary predicates on the clausal spine.

Looking at (81) one might question the necessity of the covert subject PRO in the secondary predicate as assumed so far. However, as shown in (83), a secondary predicate requires an overt matrix object in postverbal position, not a silent copy thereof.

    1. (82)
    1. 1SG
    1. zhǎodào-le
    2. find        -PERF
    1. [[sān
    2.   3
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuésheng]
    2. student
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. néng
    2. can
    1. jiějué
    2. solve
    1. nèi
    2. that
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. wèntí]].
    2. problem
    1. ‘I found three students, who can solve that problem.’
    1. (83)
    1. *[TopP
    2.  
    1. [Sān
    2.   3
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuésheng]
    2. student
    1. [matrixTP
    2.  
    1. 1SG
    1. zhǎodào-le
    2. find -PERF
    1. [sān ge xuésheng]
    2.   3 CL student
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. néng
    2. can
    1. jiějué
    2. solve
    1. nèi
    2. that
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. wèntí]]].
    2. problem
    1.   (*‘Three students, I found who can solve that problem.’)

This is different from complement clauses:

    1. (84)
    1. a.
    1. 1SG
    1. zhīdao
    2. know
    1. [TP
    2.  
    1. [sān
    2.   3
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuésheng]
    2. student
    1. néng
    2. can
    1. jiějué
    2. solve
    1. nèi
    2. that
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. wèntí].
    2. problem
    1. ‘I know that three students can solve that problem.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. [TopP
    2.  
    1. [Sān
    2.   3
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuésheng],
    2. student
    1. [matrixTP
    2.  
    1. 1SG
    1. zhīdao
    2. hope
    1. [TP
    2.  
    1. [sān ge xuésheng]
    2. 3      CL student
    1. néng
    2. can
    1. jiějué
    2. solve
    1. nèi
    2. that
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. wèntí].
    2. problem
    1. ‘Three students, I know that [they] can solve that problem.’

The contrast between (83) and (84b) indicates that the secondary predicate indeed features a PRO. Since PRO is subject to the GCR (cf. footnote (25)), this leads to the undesired co-indexation with the nearest DP, i.e. the matrix subject ‘I’ in (83), given the lack of an overt matrix object.31

Finally, as already demonstrated by Huang (1987), the projection consisting of the secondary predicate TP and the matrix object can not be a DP, because this would wrongly predict the acceptability of the resulting DP elsewhere than in the postverbal object position, i.e. in all the other positions available for DPs, such as the subject position, complement of adposition position or as object in the construction.

To conclude, while secondary predicates clearly involve a non-root context, they cannot be analysed as SCs, because they contain material (auxiliaries, aspect, negation, adverbs) normally said to be excluded from (genuine) SCs and thus project a TP with an always covert subject. Furthermore, the XPs allowed as predicates here are identical with those in matrix clauses.32 As a consequence, secondary predicate TPs are likewise acceptable as root clauses on their own, Chinese being a pro-drop language. In Chinese, there are thus no non-root contexts where otherwise non-predicative XPs are licit as predicates, a situation which was the very reason to postulate SCs to begin with. The non-existence of ECM verbs in Chinese, discussed in the next section, further supports the lack of SCs.

5 The non-existence of ECM verbs in Chinese

The complement position of ECM verbs is among the contexts par excellence for SCs:

    1. (85)
    1. a.
    1. I consider [SC John/him [AdjP very intelligent]/ [NP a genius]].
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. I expect [SC that sailor/him [PP off my ship]].

5.1 Verbs selecting a clausal complement

However, the Chinese translations corresponding to (85a–b), often cited as illustrating ECM verbs with an SC complement, turn out to simply involve verbs selecting a clausal complement (for rènwéi ‘think’, cf. already Huang 1987: 235):

    1. (86)
    1. 1SG
    1. rènwéi
    2. think
    1. [compl.cl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. NEG
    1. tài
    2. too
    1. cōngmíng /
    2. be.intelligent/
    1. 3SG
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. bèn].
    2. be.stupid
    1. ‘I think he is is not too bright/he is stupid.’
    2. NOT: ‘I consider him not too bright/ stupid.’

This error is partly due to the fact that mainly English adjectival SCs were chosen and translated into Chinese (c. a.o. Tang Sze-Wing 1998), despite the well-known caveat by Y.-H. Audrey Li (1985: 270–72, note 8; 1990: 130–134). She argued against ECM verbs in Chinese, emphasizing the well-formedness as an independent clause of tā hěn bèn ‘He is stupid.’ in sentences such as (86), given the predicative nature of scalar adjectives in Chinese. This contrasts with English him foolish in I consider [him foolish] which is not an independent clause (also cf. Tang Ting-chi 2000: 209, fn 34).33

As soon as nominal predicates are included, this is obvious, because the copula shì ‘be’ is obligatory here, as is the case in matrix contexts:

    1. (87)
    1. a.
    1. 1SG
    1. rènwéi
    2. think
    1. [compl.cl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. tiāncái].
    2. genius
    1. ‘I think she is a genius.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. [[Wǒ
    2. 1SG
    1. yǐwéi
    2. believe
    1. [compl.cl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. fǎguórén]]
    2. French
    1. ne],
    2. SFP
    1. yuánlái
    2. in.fact
    1. 3SG
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. déguórén.
    2. German
    1. ‘I thought she was French, but in fact she is German.’

The verbs rènwéi ‘think, assume’, yǐwéi ‘believe’ etc., often presented as ECM verbs on a par with English consider, believe etc., in fact select a full-fledged clausal complement, perfectly acceptable as an independent root clause, featuring inter alia negation (cf. (86) above) and auxiliaries (cf. (88) below). Accordingly, this clause is not as “bare” as expected for a SC, characterized by the absence of tense, aspect, modality.

    1. (88)
    1. 1SG
    1. rènwéi
    2. think
    1. [compl.cl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. yīnggāi
    2. must
    1. cǎiqǔ
    2. choose
    1. dìyī
    2. first
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. fāng’àn].
    2. project
    1. ‘I think he needs to choose the first project.’          (Lü Shuxiang 2000: 464)

Importantly, the subject ( ‘s/he’ in (86–88)) is case-licensed within the embedded clause, not via the matrix verb rènwéi, hence the unacceptability of the construction in (89), which presents ‘he’ as object of the matrix verb rènwéi ‘think’:34

    1. (89)
    1. *Wǒ
    2.   1SG
    1. BA
    1. 3SG
    1. rènwéi
    2. think
    1. fēicháng
    2. very
    1. cōngmíng.
    2. be.intelligent
    1.   (Intended: ‘I consider her very intelligent.’)

Furthermore, if rènwéi and other alleged ECM verbs such as xiāngxìn ‘believe’, xián, tǎoyàn ‘dislike, mind’ etc. indeed selected SC complements (as claimed by a.o. Niina Zhang 2016), these alleged SCs should also feature non-predicative intersective adjectives (cf. (90)), PostPs (cf. (91)) and PPs (cf. (92)), in addition to predicative AdjPs, licit as autonomous predicates. As shown below, this prediction is not borne out by the data:

    1. (90)
    1. a.
    1. *Wǒ
    2.   1SG
    1. yǐwéi
    2. believe
    1. /shuō
    2. /say
    1. [compl.cl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. kànfǎ
    2. view
    1. cuò/
    2. wrong/
    1. shāndòng
    2. cave
    1. tiānrán].
    2. natural
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Wǒ
    2.   1SG
    1. yǐwéi
    2. believe
    1. /shuō
    2. /say
    1. [compl.cl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. kànfǎ
    2. view
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. cuò
    2. wrong
    1. de /
    2. SUB/
    1. shāndòng
    2. cave
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. tiānrán
    2. natural
    1. de].
    2. SUB
    1.   ‘I believed/said that his view was wrong/ that the cave was natural.’
    1. (91)
    1. a.
    1. *Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. {rènwéi /yǐwéi}/
    2.       believe
    1. shuō
    2. / say
    1. [compl.cl.
    2.  
    1. 2SG
    1. jiā
    2. homE
    1. [PostP
    2.  
    1. sān
    2. 3
    1. gōnglǐ
    2. km
    1. wài]].
    2. beyond
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Tā
    2.   3SG
    1. {rènwéi/yǐwéi}/
    2.       believe
    1. shuō
    2. / say
    1. [compl.cl.
    2.  
    1. 2SG
    1. jiā
    2. home
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. be.at
    1. [PostP
    2.  
    1. sān
    2. 3
    1. gōnglǐ
    2. km
    1. wài ]]].
    2. beyond
    1.   ‘He believed/said that your home is more than 3 km away.’
    1. (92)
    1. a.
    1. *Wǒ
    2.   1SG
    1. yǐwéi
    2. believe
    1. [compl.cl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. [PP
    2.  
    1. gēn
    2. with
    1. nǐ ]].
    2. 2SG
    1.   (Intended: ‘I believed him [PP with you], i.e. in your company.’)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Wǒ
    2.   1SG
    1. yǐwéi /
    2. believe/
    1. shuō /
    2. say
    1. [compl.cl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. [vP [PP
    2.  
    1. gēn
    2. with
    1. nǐ ]
    2. 2SG
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. be.at
    1. yīqǐ ]]].
    2. together
    1.   ‘I believed/said that he was with you.’

To summarize, the alleged Chinese ECM believe type verbs cited in the literature are all clause-selecting verbs, on a par with say type verbs such as shuō ‘say’, tóngyì ‘agree’ etc. whose clausal complement requires an autonomous predicate and allows for modality and aspect. (For additional arguments against ECM verbs in Chinese, cf. Ussery, Ding & Liu 2016).

5.2 Ditransitive verbs: ‘V NP1 NP2

Besides verbs selecting clausal complements, ditransitive verbs such as jiào ‘call sb sth’; ‘abusively call sb. names’; dāng ‘treat as, take for’ etc. in the pattern ‘V NP1 NP2’ have likewise been misanalysed as ECM verbs selecting an SC complement (cf. a.o. Tang Sze-Wing 1998; Tang Ting-chi 2000). This is reminiscent of the ditransitive ‘take NP1 for NP2’ verbs in English, Serbo-Croation and Russian, which have been incorrectly claimed to involve SCs headed by ‘for’ (cf. Marelj & Matushanky 2015).

Importantly, the ditransitive verbs involved here only allow a nominal projection as second argument, to the exclusion of any other XP (i.e. [±pred] Adjectival Phrases and Adpositional Phrases). This renders unfeasible an analysis of ‘NP1 NP2’ as an SC with NP1 as subject and NP2 as predicate, because other XPs besides NP would be expected as predicates in an SC. Furthermore, proper names (cf. (93)) are not licit SC predicates (cf. Marelj & Matushanky 2015: 54)

    1. (93)
    1. Wǒmen
    2. 1PL
    1. jiào
    2. call
    1. 3SG
    1. [DP
    2.  
    1. Wáng
    2. Wang
    1. lǎoshī ]/*[AdjP
    2. teacher/
    1. fēicháng
    2. very
    1. cōngmíng].
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘We call him Prof. Wang/*be very intelligent.’
    1. (94)
    1. 1SG
    1. abusively.call
    1. 3SG
    1. shǎguā/
    2. fool /
    1. {*bù
    2.     NEG
    1. cōngmíng /*
    2. be.intelligent/
    1. shǎhūhūde}.35
    2. be.foolish
    1. ‘I (abusively) called him a fool/* not be intelligent/be foolish.’
    1. (95)
    1. Dàjiā
    2. everybody
    1. dōu
    2. all
    1. BA
    1. 3SG
    1. dāng
    2. treat.as
    1. tiāncái/
    2. genius /
    1. *[AdjP
    2.  
    1. fēicháng
    2. very
    1. cōngmíng].
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘Everybody takes him for a genius/*to be very intelligent.’
    1. (96)
    1. NEG
    1. yào
    2. need
    1. BA
    1. 1SG
    1. dāng
    2. treat.as
    1. {kèrén/*[AdjP
    2. guest /
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. kèqi] },
    2. be.polite
    1. wǒmen
    2. 1PL
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. hǎo
    2. good
    1. péngyou.
    2. friend
    1. ‘Don’t treat me {like a guest/*polite}, we’re good friends.’

In addition, Bruening’s (2018: 555) observation that the theme in a double object construction can itself be a reflexive pronoun (Maxwelli offered Sally himselfi) or contain one also holds for Chinese (cf. (97)); this undermines an SC analysis of DO constructions, because SCs constitute opaque domains for anaphora:

    1. (97)
    1. Zhāngsāni
    2. Zhangsan
    1. sòng
    2. give
    1. Lǐsì
    2. Lisi
    1. [zìjǐi
    2.   self
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. shū]
    2. book
    1. (Y.-H. Audrey Li 1985: 272, footnote 8)
    2.  
    1. ‘Zhangsani gave Lisi hisi book (as a present).’

In fact, Y.-H. Audrey Li (1985) cited (97) precisely in order to invalidate an SC analysis of the DO construction in Mandarin Chinese.

5.3 The dang 当 trap: Necessary digression on the homonymic verbs dāng

The reliance on translations as evidence for SCs in Chinese creates a particularly great confusion in the case of the different verbs dāng whose homonomy is not controlled for. Accordingly, the verb dāng ‘assume, think’ selecting a clausal complement and the ditransitive verb dāng ‘treat as’ are not distinguished and moreover mis-analysed as ECM verbs. Given that dāng is cited as the prototypical example of (alleged) ECM verbs in Chinese, a careful discussion is called for.

Sentence (98) is often proposed, mainly by Mandarin speakers from the South, as the equivalent of I consider [him a fool], where dāng (translated as ‘consider) is claimed to be an ECM verb selecting a nominal SC:

    1. (98)
    1. 1SG
    1. dāng
    2. consider
    1. [SC
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. [NP
    2.  
    1. shǎguā]].
    2. fool
    1. ‘I consider him a fool.’

However, this way of presenting (98) is incorrect. Instead, dāng here is clearly the verb ‘assume, think’ selecting a clausal complement, as evidenced by the obligatory presence of the copula under negation (cf. Section 4.1.1 above):

    1. (99)
    1. 1SG
    1. dāng
    2. think
    1. [cl.compl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. NEG
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. [NP
    2.  
    1. shǎguā]].
    2. fool
    1. ‘I think that he is not a fool.’

Furthermore, the optionality of shì ‘be’ observed in (98) is heavily restricted and depends on the NP:

    1. (100)
    1. 1SG
    1. NEG
    1. dāng
    2. think
    1. [cl.compl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. {rén /
    2.   human.being/
    1. xuésheng/
    2. student /
    1. lǎoshī }].
    2. teacher
    1. ‘I don’t think that he is a human being/ a student/a teacher.’

This explains why it is nearly exclusively (98) with shǎguā ‘fool’ as nominal predicate that is cited as an alleged SC for Chinese (cf. a.o. Tang Sze Wing 1998).

The verb dāng ‘think’ contrasts with the ditransitive verb dāng ‘take sb. for, treat as, consider’ selecting two nominal complements (also cf. (95)–(96) above):

    1. (101)
    1. 1SG
    1. NEG
    1. [ba-vP
    2.  
    1. BA
    1. [tā
    2.   3SG
    1. dāng
    2. treat.as
    1. {rén /
    2.   human.being/
    1. xuésheng/
    2. student /
    1. lǎoshī}]].
    2. teacher
    1. ‘I will not treat him as a human being/student/teacher.’

Importantly, (98)–(101) represent the judgements from the same speaker.

This analysis can also account for the contrast between (102) and (103) observed by an anonymous reviewer (my bracketing and translation):

    1. (102)
    1. 1SG
    1. dāng
    2. think
    1. [cl.compl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. [AdjP
    2.  
    1. chǔn /
    2. be.stupid/
    1. lǎn ]].
    2. be.lazy
    1. ‘I think he is lazy.’
    1. (103)
    1. *Wǒ
    2. 1SG
    1. BA
    1. 3SG
    1. dāng
    2. treat.as
    1. [AdjP
    2.  
    1. chǔn /
    2. be.stupid/
    1. lǎn ].
    2. be.lazy
    1. (Intended: ‘I take him to be stupid.’)

In (102), the verb dāng ‘think, assume’ selects a clausal complement where for some speakers, including the reviewer, the positive degree interpretation can be obtained for a bare adjective without a degree adverb (cf. Section 4.2 above). An adjective is, however, unacceptable as complement of the ditransitive verb dāng ‘take sb. for’, hence the reviewer’s rejecting (103).

Note, finally, that Northern speakers mainly use the clausal complement selecting verb dāng in the sense of ‘erroneously assume’ (cf. (104–106)), in general require the copula for a nominal predicate (cf. (105)) and a degree adverb for the positive degree interpretation of an adjective (cf. (106)) in the complement clause:

    1. (104)
    1. 2SG
    1. zài
    2. be.at
    1. zhèr,
    2. here
    1. 1SG
    1. hái
    2. still
    1. dāng
    2. err.assume
    1. [cl.compl.
    2.  
    1. 2SG
    1. zǒu
    2. leave
    1. -le ]
    2. -PERF
    1. ne !
    2. SFP
    1. ‘You are here, and I thought you had left!’ (Lü Shuxiang 2000: 151)
    1. (105)
    1. [Matrix TP
    2.  
    1. 1SG
    1. dāng
    2. err.assume
    1. [cl.compl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. [NP
    2.  
    1. shǎguā]]]
    2. fool
    1. ne !
    2. SFP
    1. ‘And I had (wrongly) thought he was a fool!’
    1. (106)
    1. [Matrix TP
    2.  
    1. 1SG
    1. hái
    2. still
    1. dāng
    2. err.assume
    1. [cl.compl.
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. [AdjP
    2.  
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. lǎn ]]]
    2. be.lazy
    1. ne!
    2. SFP
    1. ‘And I had (wrongly) thought he was lazy!’

Given this complex situation, I have avoided examples with dāng as much as possible and have not based my reasoning on examples with dāng alone, as in Section 5.2 above, where dāng ‘treat sb. as’ is one among several ditransitive verbs examined.

5.4 Wrap-up

Chinese has no ECM verbs. Claims to the contrary in the literature have simply been too hasty: the data basis is too meagre and non-representative, basic facts such as the existence of predicative adjectives in Chinese are glossed over and it is not checked whether constraints holding for SCs in other languages (such as the exclusion of proper names as predicates, SCs as an opaque domain for anaphors etc.) are observed in Chinese. Alleged ECM verbs have been demonstrated to either involve clause-selecting verbs or ditransitive verbs, similar to what Marejl & Matushansky (2015) have shown for English, Serbo-Croation and Russian.

6 Matrix clauses with non-verbal predicates in Chinese

The lack of SCs in Chinese has consequences for the analysis of matrix sentences with non-verbal predicates, which I can only sketch briefly. The current assumption is that the copula and copula-like verbs such as become, seem etc. all select SCs with AdjPs, NPs or AdpPs as predicates and that the SC-subject raises to matrix SpecTP (cf a.o. Partee 1986; Heycock 1992; Moro 1997; Bowers 2002; den Dikken 2006).

    1. (107)
    1. a.
    1. Hei is [SC ti [PP off the ship]/[AdjP intelligent]/[NP a sailor]/ [DP Anna’s best friend]].
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Jennyi became [SC ti [AdjP intelligent]/[NP a sailor]/ [DP Anna’s best friend]].
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Thisi was [SC ti [PostP three years ago/ later]].

In Chinese, however, the situation is different, because copular verbs exclusively select nominal projections. Before demonstrating this for copula-like become-type verbs in the remainder of this section, I first recapitulate the relevant data from Section 4 above concerning the (in)compatibility of the copula shì ‘be’ with the different lexical categories.

Nominal projections in general require the copula shì ‘be’ when predicates. Under certain conditions, NPs and proper names may function as predicate without the copula, but only in root-contexts. This is the exact opposite of the asymmetry expected under an SC approach, where it is the non-root context that should license a reduced predicational structure: John *(is) president vs They elected John president. Recall that under negation, the copula is always obligatory, both in root and non-root contexts.

Scalar (predicative) adjectives (e.g. cōngmíng ‘be intelligent’) are incompatible with the copula shì ‘be’, including negation contexts; in this respect they behave on a par with verbal predicates. Absolute (non-predicative) adjectives (e.g. jiǎ ‘fake’, fāng ‘square’) appear embedded in a DP with an empty NP complement [DP adj [De’ de [NP Ø]]] and therefore require the copula.

Concerning PPs, they can never function as predicates nor be selected by the verb zài ‘be at’.36 While there are some rare cases where the copula selects temporal or abstract PPs (to the exclusion of spatial PPs), these are the exceptions to the general incompatibility between the copula and PPs.

PostPs – like PPs – cannot function as predicates.37 Furthermore, they are incompatible with the copula, but – unlike PPs – acceptable as complement of the verb zài ‘be at’ (cf. (62) above)). Note, though, that the latter only holds for PostPs expressing spatial and abstract location, not for temporal location.

To sum up, AdpPs do not behave as a homogeneous group, because only PostPs are compatible with the verb zài ‘be at’. We thus do not even obtain the at first sight “plausible” distribution, where the copula shì ‘be’ would combine with nominal projections, and the verb zài ‘be at’ with AdpPs.

If we now turn to copula-like become-type verbs in Chinese and the XPs they select, the picture we obtain again shows a major divide between nominal projections (acceptable as complement), on the one hand, and Adjectival Phrases and Adpositional Phrases (unacceptable as complement), on the other.

Verbs such as biànchéng ‘become, change into’, chéng(wéi) ‘become’, dāng ‘function as, serve as, be’ only select NPs, no AdjPs and in that respect pattern with the copula:38

    1. (108)
    1. Sān
    2. 3
    1. nián
    2. year
    1. méi
    2. NEG
    1. jiàn
    2. see
    1. tā,
    2. 3SG
    1. xiànzài
    2. now
    1. biàn
    2. change
    1. -chéng
    2. -become
    1. {[NP
    2.  
    1. big
    1. gūniang]/*[AdjP
    2. girl /
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. piàoliàng]}
    2. be.pretty
    1. le.
    2. SFP
    1. ‘I haven’t seen her for three years, now she’s become a grown-up girl/very pretty.’
    1. (109)
    1. Liǎng
    2. 2
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. rén
    2. person
    1. chéng
    2. become-be
    1. (-wéi)-le
    2.           -PERF
    1. {[NP
    2.  
    1. hǎo
    2. good
    1. péngyou]/*[AdjP
    2. friend /
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. yǒuhǎo]}
    2. be.friendly
    1. ‘These two persons have become good friends/friendly.’
    1. (110)
    1. Ta
    2. 3SG
    1. zhǎngdà,
    2. grow.up
    1. xiǎng
    2. want
    1. dāng
    2. function.as
    1. {[NP
    2.  
    1. bǎiwànfùwēng/
    2. millionaire /
    1. yīshēng]/*[AdjP
    2. doctor /
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. yǒumíng]}
    2. be.famous
    1. ‘When she is grown up, she wants to be(come) a millionaire/ a doctor/very famous.’

The meaning of ‘become + adjective’ can either be rendered by a compound consisting of the verb biàn ‘change’ plus a scalar (predicative) adjective (cf. (111a–b)), or by a complex predicate headed by the same verb biàn ‘change’ (cf. (112)):

    1. (111)
    1. a.
    1. À,
    2. ah
    1. 2SG
    1. [
    2.  
    1. biàn
    2. change
    1. -cōngmíng]
    2. -be.intelligent
    1. le !
    2. SFP
    1. ‘Ah, you have become intelligent!’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Yèzi
    2. leaf
    1. [
    2.  
    1. biàn
    2. change
    1. -hóng]
    2. -be.red
    1. -le.
    2. -PERF
    1. ‘The leaves have turned red.’
    1. (112)
    1. Iphone6
    2. Iphone6
    1. shíjiān
    2. time
    1. tūránjiān
    2. suddenly
    1. biàn
    2. change
    1. de
    2. DE
    1. {[AdjP
    2.  
    1. NEG
    1. duì ]
    2. be.correct/
    1. /*cuò
    2. wrong/
    1. /*shì
    2. be
    1. [cuò
    2.   wrong
    1. de]}
    2. SUB
    1. ‘Concerning the Iphone 6, the time indication has suddenly become incorrect.’

In the complex predicate in (112), de selects a predicative AdjP, and the resulting DeP in turn merges with the verb, in this case biàn ‘change’: [vP biàn [DeP de AdjP]].39 Note that the status of this de – different from the de-head on the D-spine – is unclear, beyond its being a functional head (cf. Paul 2017b). The unacceptability of the absolute (non-predicative) adjective cuò ‘wrong’ in (112), irrespective of the presence or absence of shì…de, illustrates the requirement for de to select a predicative AdjP:

    1. (113)
    1. a.
    1. 3SG
    1. xiànzài
    2. now
    1. biàn
    2. change
    1. [de
    2.   DE
    1. [hěn
    2.   very
    1. cōngmíng
    2. be.intelligent/
    1. /fēicháng
    2. extremely
    1. jiāo’ào
    2. be.proud
    1. /hen
    2. /very
    1. mǐngǎn ]].
    2. be.susceptible
    1. ‘She has now become very bright/extremely proud/very susceptible.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Shìqíng
    2. matter
    1. biàn
    2. change
    1. de
    2. DE
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. fùzá.
    2. be.complicated
    1. ‘The matter has become very complicated.’

The compound status of ‘biàn + adjective’ in (111a–b) above explains why no degree adverbs etc. are allowed (cf. (114)), in contrast to the AdjP in the complex predicate construction in (113a–b):

    1. (114)
    1. *Nǐ
    2.   2SG
    1. [
    2.  
    1. biàn
    2. change
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. cōngmíng]
    2. intelligent
    1. le
    2. SFP

Importantly, the functional head de does not select NPs, as illustrated by the contrast between the unacceptable hǎo péngyou ‘good friend’ vs the acceptable hěn yǒuhǎo ‘very friendly’:

    1. (115)
    1. a.
    1.   Tāmen
    2.   3PL
    1. biàn
    2. change
    1. de
    2. DE
    1. {*[NP
    2.  
    1. hǎo
    2. good
    1. péngyou]/[AdjP
    2. friend /
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. yǒuhǎo]}
    2. be.friendly
    1.   ‘They have become good friends/very friendly.’          (compare with (109) above)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Nǐ
    2.   2SG
    1. tūrán
    2. suddenly
    1. biàn
    2. change
    1. de
    2. DE
    1. [NP
    2.  
    1. jūnzi]
    2. gentleman
    1. le
    2. SFP
    1.   (Intended: ‘You have all of a sudden become a gentleman.’)

To summarize, an SC approach to non-verbal predication in Chinese matrix clauses is not feasible when assuming a unique projection (e.g. PredP) for all SCs (contra a.o. Sze-Wing 1998, Wei Ting-chi 2007).40 Because the copula and copula-like verbs do not indifferently combine with AdjPs, NPs and AdpPs or at least a substantial, i.e. category-overlapping subset thereof, as is the case for English be and become. Instead, copular verbs exclusively select nominal projections, not other lexical categories (modulo the few heavily constrained cases of shì ‘be’ plus PP).

When adopting an analysis of SCs à la Stowell (1981) and Matushansky (2019) where it is the lexical head of the predicate that determines the category of the SC, a scenario where copular verbs exclusively select nominal SCs for Chinese is in principle possible and would at least in one case make Chinese conform to the generally adopted schema for non-verbal predication in matrix clauses. However, this scenario, recommended by two anonymous reviewers, does not seem to have any advantage over my proposal and certainly does not give us any new insight about Chinese. On the contrary, it might obscur the real “troublemaker”, viz. predicative adjectives. Any theory of non-verbal predication (in matrix clauses) has to come to terms with them; the so far existing semantic analyses of adjectives in Chinese (cf. a.o. C.-S. Luther Liu 2010; 2018; Grano 2012) remain unsatisfactory, because they gloss over the existence of scalar non-predicative adjectives which must, however, be taken into account for a meaningful analysis. In addition, if acceptability as complement of the copula shì ‘be’ in matrix sentences is used as criterion for SC-hood, would that imply SC-status for the rare cases of abstract PPs (headed by yīnwèi ‘because of’ and wèile ‘for’, cf. (60) above) that are compatible with shì ‘be’?

Furthermore, as repeated several times, the conditioned optionality of the copula with nominal predicates in (affirmative) root clauses and its obligatory presence in non-root clauses is the exact opposite of the asymmetry expected under an SC approach, where it is the non-root context that allows for a reduced predicational structure without a copular head. Finally, Stowell (1978) argued for an analysis where the copula directly selects a nominal complement, not a nominal SC, a proposal taken up by Rothstein (1995) for copular identity sentences in Hebrew.

As a consequence, the strong claim is maintained that Chinese has no SCs at all, which highlights the general necessity of an alternative account without SCs for non-verbal predication in Chinese matrix clauses.41

7 Conclusion

This article has provided extensive evidence to show that there is no root vs non-root asymmetry for predicates in Chinese: if an XP is not licit as an autonomous predicate in root contexts, then X is not licit as predicate elsewhere, i.e. in non-root contexts, either. Accordingly, there are no special non-root contexts in the form of SCs where a non-predicative XP can exceptionally function as predicate.

This at first sight radical claim concerning Chinese is not isolated, but can be seen as part of a more general trend which provides alternative analyses for phenomena so far analysed as SCs, thus reducing the scope of this construction (cf. Marelj & Matushansky 2015; Bruening 2018; Matushansky 2019). The universal nature of SCs is therefore challenged and should no longer bias crosslinguistic studies, as is currently still the case; Balazs (2012) for example, despite some initial misgivings, in the end concedes the existence of SC in Chinese.

ECM verbs as the context par excellence for SCs have likewise been shown to be absent from Chinese.

Given the lack of non-root SCs in Chinese, an analysis postulating SCs as complements of copular verbs in matrix sentences is not viable, either. Even if one allowed for exclusively nominal SCs as complement of copular verbs in Chinese matrix sentences, this would leave unexplained why the copula is always obligatory in non-root contexts, but sometimes optional in matrix sentences, thus displaying the exact opposite of the observed crosslinguistic asymmetry in languages with genuine SCs.

The situation in Chinese suggests that the properties of its copula are at stake, as briefly illustrated below with two observations.

In languages with genuine SCs such as English and Romance languages, the copula and copula-like verbs are unaccusative verbs. This allows for the copula in matrix clauses to select an SC, whose subject raises to matrix SpecTP. In Chinese, by contrast, shì ‘be’ is a transitive verb with an external argument, as evidenced inter alia by the fact that it is not shì ‘be’, but the unaccusative verb yǒu ‘exist’ that occurs in the existential construction, alongside with other unaccusative verbs (cf. Paul, Lu & Lee 2020 for extensive discussion):

    1. (116)
    1. a.
    1. Yǒu
    2. exist
    1. rén.
    2. person
    1. ‘There is somebody.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Lái
    2. come
    1. -le
    2. -PERF
    1. kèrén.
    2. guest
    1. ‘There have come guests.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Fāshēng
    2. happen
    1. -le
    2. PERF
    1. shénme
    2. what
    1. shì?
    2. matter
    1. ‘What happened?’

While yǒu NP ‘There is NP’ can be uttered “out of the blue”, shì NP ‘be NP’ can only be understood as ‘This/{he/she/it} is NP’ with a pronominal null subject.

We have also seen that the copula cannot establish a relation of predication for Adpositional Phrases, suggesting that the copula is required to support tense rather than to mediate the predication relation. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that the copula patterns with stative predicates (i.e. scalar adjectives (cf. (118)) and stative verbs (cf. (119)), insofar as the presence of a past tense adverb is sufficient for locating the predicate in the past tense (cf. Sun Hongyuan 2014; Paul 2018):

    1. (117)
    1. 3SG
    1. yǐqián
    2. before
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. yīngwén
    2. English
    1. lǎoshī,
    2. teacher
    1. xiànzài
    2. now
    1. shì
    2. be
    1. déwén
    2. German
    1. lǎoshī.
    2. teacher
    1. ‘She was an English teacher before, now she is a German teacher.’
    1. (118)
    1. 1SG
    1. zuótiān
    2. yesterday
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. máng.
    2. be.busy
    1. ‘I was very busy yesterday.’
    1. (119)
    1. 3SG
    1. yǐqián
    2. before
    1. tèbié
    2. particularly
    1. xǐhuān
    2. like
    1. shùxué.
    2. mathematics
    1. ‘She particularly liked mathematics before.’

Further studies must decide whether the different nature of the copula and copula-like verbs in Chinese is indeed among the factors explaining why an SC approach to non-verbal predication in matrix clauses cannot be adopted.

Finally, there remains the challenge that in Chinese, scalar adjectives are autonomous predicates and – on a par with verbs – exclude the copula, a well-known fact often neglected in the literature. While adjectives and verbs are clearly distinct lexical categories in Chinese, they seem to behave alike with respect to their predicative function. How this can be formally captured must be left for future, more fine-grained approaches to non-verbal predication in matrix clauses.

Notes

1Given the controversial status of tense and finiteness in Chinese (cf. a.o. Sun Hongyuan 2014; Grano 2017; C.-T. James Huang 2017; Law & Ndayiragije 2017; Paul 2018; Niina Zhang 2019) it is difficult to define SCs as predicational projections lacking inflectional material such as tense. There is, however, evidence for a syntactic projection hosting the subject, IP/TP (cf. Ernst 1994; Victor Junnan Pan 2019: 13). The head of IP/TP is always covert (cf. Ernst 1994), as evidenced by the fact that adverbs and adjunct XPs follow the subject and precede the highest head in the extended verbal projection (auxiliaries, aspectual head) as well as negation, when present.

2The abbrevation AdjP (instead of AP) is used here to distinguish it more clearly from Adpositional Phrases (AdpP) introduced further below.

3In fact, with the exception of Bowers (1993) and den Dikken (2006), the tacit assumption in the literature was that Pred° is present for non-verbal predication only, hence no conflation of v°/Voice° with Pred°.

4There has been a recent revival of [Pred] as an obligatory “supercategory” feature of predicative lexical categories (cf. Bruening & Al Khalaf 2020). This does, however, not concern us here, because SCs will be shown not to exist in Chinese, be it as lexical projections or as a uniform PredP.

5“Reduced” size as a property of SCs is not generally agreed upon, given the proposals by a.o. Starke (1995) and Sportiche (1995) claiming CP status for SCs (cf. Cardinaletti & Guasti 1995: 9–10 for discussion).

6Not all speakers accept (21a), cited as acceptable in the literature. The same holds for the examples of preverbal object-depicting adverbs in Xiong Zhongru (2013) and Yang Yongzhong (2014). By contrast, the structure in (21b) is acceptable for all, with the object depicting quality encoded as an adjectival modifier of the object DP.

7In (22), de in preverbal nóngnóngde is part of the reduplicated form of the adverb; when preceding the subordinator de, the two de’s are phonetically fused into one de (haplology).

8The object control construction is illustrated in (i):

    1. (i)
    1. 1SG
    1. quàn
    2. persuade
    1. 3SG
    1. [PRO
    2.  
    1. jiè
    2. abstain
    1. yān /
    2. smoke/
    1. NEG
    1. yào
    2. want
    1. zhōngduàn
    2. interrupt
    1. xuéyè].
    2. studies
    1. ‘I persuaded her to give up smoking/ not to interrupt her studies.’

9Sybesma (1999: 76) gives the following explanation of how to avoid the incorrect output “Y-le V” based on this structure when applying head raising with uniform left adjunction: “It seems to be the case that in order to derive the correct surface order we need to stipulate that in the lexicon it is somehow determined and recorded that le is a suffix: it has to come last. So the derivation involves raising of the head of YP to incorporate into the immediately dominating head X, i.e. Realization le, and the cluster Y-le moves on to incorporate into the V.” Accordingly, in (26b), gān ‘be dry’ first left-adjoins to -le and the resulting gān-le then right-adjoins to the verb ‘wipe’. This contrasts with the standard way of obtaining the correct surface position of verbal suffixes, i.e. to analyse them as heads selecting a VP complement.

10Note immediately that gān ‘be dry’ can function as a predicate, hence bōli gān is acceptable as an independent sentence ‘The glass is dry/drier.’ (cf. the discussion in Section 4.2 below).

11While the conditioned optionality of the copula in affirmative sentences and its obligatoriness under negation are well-known in the literature (cf. Chao Yuen Ren 1968: 90ff.; Zhu Dexi 1982: 102–103), the asymmetry root vs non-root has so far not been noted.

12The existence of these two classes of adjectives seems at first sight reminiscent of the opposition “verbal vs nominal adjectives” as observed e.g. in Japanese. However, predicative, i.e. scalar adjectives in Chinese pattern with non-predicative, i.e. absolute adjectives, not with stative verbs, as evidenced by the acceptablity of both adjectival classes in the so-called de-less modification: [NP adjective N°] (cf. (30b) above), precisely exluded for stative verbs (cf. Paul 2005; 2010 for discussion and references). In addition, the situation in Chinese is different from Japanese, where the same (nominal vs verbal) form shows up in predicative and attributive function alike (cf. Yamakido 2000 cited in Matushansky 2019: 88–89). Because in Chinese, non-predicative adjectives exclude the copula when being DP-internal modifiers (cf. (i)) and are then on a par with predicative adjectives (cf. (ii)):

    1. (i)
    1. sān
    2. 3
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. [DP
    2.  
    1. (*shì)
    2.     be
    1. fāng
    2. square
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. pánzi]
    2. plate
    1. ‘three square plates’

    1. (ii)
    1. sān
    2. 3
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. [DP
    2.  
    1. cōngmíng
    2. intelligent
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. xuésheng]
    2. student
    1. ‘three intelligent students’

Given that non-predicative adjectives have been largely neglected in the literature on adjectives in Chinese (including recent studies such as C.-S. Luther Liu 2010 and Grano 2012) and that no more precise structural analysis than the one in Paris (1979) has been proposed, the fact in (i) has so far not been accounted for, either.

13For adjectives as a lexical category distinct from (stative) verbs, cf. a.o. Huang, Li & Li 2009: 21–26; Paul 2005; 2010 and the references therein to the numerous works by Chinese structuralists in the fifties and sixties of the last century, who all considered adjectives as a separate part of speech. Works proposing to conflate adjectives with stative verbs can only do so because they do not take into account a representative array of data (cf. a.o. Larson 1991; McCawley 1992; Tang Sze-Wing 1998).

14The sequence ‘NP shì adjective’ is only acceptable when shì is not the copula ‘be’, but the so-called emphatic shì, which – obligatorily stressed – strengthens the assertion, similar to English do:

    1. (i)
    1. 3SG
    1. SHì
    2. SHI
    1. zǒu-le.
    2. leave –PERF
    1. ‘He did leave.’          (Lü Shuxiang 2000: 499)

    1. (ii)
    1. 3SG
    1. SHì
    2. SHI
    1. cōngmíng.
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘She IS intelligent [for sure].’

    1. (iii)
    1. 3SG
    1. (*bù)
    2.     NEG
    1. SHì
    2. SHI
    1. (bù)
    2.   NEG
    1. cōngmíng.
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘She is NOT intelligent [for sure].’

Given that emphatic shì cannot be negated and must be higher than negation when present (cf. (iii)), it might be plausibly analyzed as a sentential adverb. It is thus different from the (negatable) copula shì ‘be’ (cf. (31a–31c) above)), which likewise occurs in focus clefts and assocation-with-focus structures (paceC.-S. Luther Liu 2010: 10; Grano 2012, section 4.3; cf. Paul & Whitman 2008).

15An anonymous reviewer observes the optionality of shì ‘be’ here and the associated possibility of construing fāng de ‘square SUB’ and jiǎ de ‘false SUB’ as an afterthought. Although native speakers consulted had difficulties replicating this judgement, the intended afterthought structure would probably feature a DP with a covert pánzi ‘plate’:

    1. (i)
    1. [TP
    2.  
    1. 3SG
    1. mǎi-le
    2. buy-PERF
    1. [jǐ
    2. several
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. pánzi]],
    2. plate
    1. [DP
    2.  
    1. fāng
    2. square
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. pánzi].
    2. plate
    1. ‘He bought several plates, square ones.’

The precise structure of the secondary predicate is discussed in Section 4.5 below and shown not to involve an afterthought.

16Some of the native speakers consulted only marginally accepted the reviewer’s (52a) and preferred the presence of hěn ‘very’ for the positive degree interpretation. With negation, bù dàNEG be big’ the sentence was acceptable for all, meaning ‘China is not big’, thus again mirroring the situation in root clauses.

17It is difficult to construe a plausible sentence with shì [yīnwèi/wèile nǐ] ‘be because of you/for you’ as secondary predicate.

18For a set of diagnostic tests to distinguish between (homophonous) verbs and preposition, cf. Djamouri & Paul (1997, 2009); Paul (2015, ch. 3 and references therein). One criterion is the ban on preposition stranding, which holds in Chinese as well (cf. (i)), whereas verbs are perfectly acceptable with a covert complement (cf. (ii)):

    1. (i)
    1. 3SG
    1. měitiān
    2. every.day
    1. [vP [PP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. at
    1. jiā]
    2. home
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. shuì
    2. sleep
    1. wǔjiào]],
    2. nap
    1. 1SG
    1. also
    1. měitiān
    2. every.day
    1. [vP [PP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. at
    1. *(jiā)]
    2.     home
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. shuì
    2. sleep
    1. wǔjiào]].
    2. nap
    1. ‘He takes a nap at home every day, I also take a nap at home every day.’

    1. (ii)
    1. 1SG
    1. gāngcái
    2. just
    1. qù-le yī
    2. go-PERF
    1. tàng,
    2. time
    1. 3SG
    1. méi
    2. NEG
    1. [vP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. be.at
    1. (jiā)].
    2.   home
    1. ‘I just went there, he wasn’t at home/he wasn’t in.’

19The unacceptability of ‘NP shì PostP’ provides further evidence against the conflation of PostPs with NPs (pace a.o. Huang, Li & Li 2009).

20While complex DPs with demonstrative pronouns and modifiers subordinated with de always require the copula, the predicative function of proper names is controversial and restricted to hic and nunc contexts such as presentation situations where the person involved is actually present. Accordingly, in (i) below ‘he’ must be identifiable by being pointed at:

    1. (i)
    1. Wǒ/Tā
    2. 1SG:3SG
    1. Zhāng
    2. Zhang
    1. Pīng.
    2. Ping
    1. ‘I am/he is Zhang Ping.’

21The secondary predicate is translated as a non-restrictive relative clause, in order to highlight its optionality. The reader should keep in mind, though, that in Chinese, the secondary predicate is precisely not part of the object DP. Restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses both occupy SpecD(e)P: [DP [rel.cl. ….] [de NP]].

22Huang (1987: 248) notes the following counter-example to this claim:

    1. (i)
    1. 1SG
    1. zhèng
    2. just
    1. zài
    2. PROGR
    1. kàn
    2. see
    1. 1
    1. běn
    2. CL
    1. shū
    2. book
    1. hěn
    2. very
    1. yǒuyìsì.
    2. be.interesting
    1. ‘I’m right now reading a book which is very interesting.’

As Tsai (1994:171–172) suggests, the type of verb involved nevertheless seems to presuppose the existence of the object, hence the acceptability of (i). If these ‘use’ type verbs (in the sense of Diesing 1992) are replaced by ‘create’ type verbs, e.g. xiě ‘write’, sentence (i) becomes unacceptable.

23NumPs in Chinese are generally specific, as evidenced by their unacceptability in the scope of negation:

    1. (i)
    1. *Wǒ
    2.   1SG
    1. méiyou
    2. NEG
    1. kànjian
    2. see
    1. [yī
    2.   1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. rén].
    2. person
    1.   (‘I did not see a certain person.’)          (Huang 1987: 249, (85))

As indicated by an anonymous reviewer, the “Specificity Effect” advocated by Huang (1987: 249) for DPs with a secondary predicate again seems too strong a generalization:

    1. (ii)
    1. 1SG
    1. cónglái
    2. ever
    1. méiyǒu
    2. NEG
    1. jiāo-guo
    2. teach-EXP
    1. rènhé
    2. any
    1. xuéshengi
    2. student
    1. [PROi
    2.  
    1. compared.to
    1. 3SG
    1. cōngmíng].
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘I have never taught a student smarter than him.’

    1. (iii)
    1. Wǒmen
    2. 1PL
    1. yào
    2. want
    1. xùnliàn
    2. train
    1. xuésheng
    2. student
    1. néng
    2. can
    1. jiějué
    2. solve
    1. suǒyǒu
    2. all
    1. de
    2. SUB
    1. wènti.
    2. problem
    1. ‘We should train students who can solve all problems.’

24Huang (1987: 236) dismisses an analysis of the ‘NP XP’ sequence as small clause, because inter alia the class of verbs observed with secondary predicates is the open class of transitive verbs, to the exclusion of verbs such as consider, which in Chinese are ditransitive verbs selecting two DPs, not a clausal (SC-) complement as in English. Cf. Section 5 below for the non-existence of ECM verbs in Chinese.

25“The GCR is basically Chomsky’s (1980) rule of control, extended to cover both and PRO and pro:

    1. (61)
    1. Coindex an empty pronominal with the closest nominal element.”          (Huang 1984: 352, (61))

Huang (1984, 1987) does not say whether this analysis likewise holds for secondary predicates with a covert subject, PRO, as in all the examples of secondary predicates discussed above. This is, however, what Tsai Wei-tian (1994: 180, (103a)) proposes. He leaves, however, completely open the hierarchical relationship between the verb, the matrix object and the secondary predicate, providing bracketing for the object DP and the secondary predicate only:

    1. (i)
    1. 1SG
    1. jiāo -guo
    2. teach-EXP
    1. [yī
    2.   1
    1. ge
    2. CL
    1. xuésheng]i
    2. student
    1. [CP OPi [ eci
    2.  
    1. fēicháng
    2. extremely
    1. cōngmíng ]].
    2. be.intelligent
    1. ‘I have taught a (certain) student, who is very clever.’

26Adjunct PPs and NPs may behave as low VP-level adverbs, on a par with (strict) manner adverbs, as evidenced by their acceptability below auxiliaries (cf. Paul 2017b for further discussion):

    1. (i)
    1. [TopP {[PP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. at
    1. túshūguǎn]}
    2. library
    1. [TP
    2.  
    1. 2SG
    1. {[PP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. at
    1. túshūguǎn]}
    2. library
    1. néng
    2. can
    1. {[PP
    2.  
    1. zài
    2. at
    1. túshūguǎn]}
    2. library
    1. fùyìn]].
    2. xerox
    1. ‘You can make photocopies in the library.’

27Whether the complement clause in (76) corrresponds to WollP, i.e. an IP (cf. Wurmbrand 2014) as claimed by Huang (2017) or whether it is rather a TopP with a null subject pro goes beyond the scope of this article.

28We concentrate here on secondary predicates with a PRO subject and leave aside secondary predicates with an overt subject and covert object, as in Huang’s example (72) above.

29To be more precise, postverbal material must either be merged “downstairs” in the vP or “high up” with TP; this is the case for sentence-final particles (SFP) as C-elements: [CP [TP S V O] SFP]. Cf. Paul (2014; 2015, ch. 7). Adjunction of the secondary predicate to TP or CP (when an SFP is present), would incorrectly present the secondary predicate as an “afterthought”.

30I do not follow Huang’s (1988: 57) stipulation that yǒu ‘exist’ is an auxiliary located in Infl. Auxiliaries and lexical verbs alike never leave the vP; accordingly, the head of the projection hosting the subject (Infl or T°) always remains covert in Chinese (cf. Ernst 1994).

31This is not an isolated phenomenon; Wei & Li (2018: 320–321) likewise observe the required overt nature of the matrix object in sentences with bare purposives.

An anonymous reviewer points to the wellformedness of These oysters, I will eat these osytersi [PROi raw] where the matrix object has been topicalized, and refers to object depictives SC in (8a) above with a PRO subject in the SC Hei ate the meatk [SC PROk raw], which look similar to secondary predicate structures in Chinese. The difference observed between the two languages might be taken as an additional argument to show that the secondary predicate in Chinese is precisely not an SC. Note that Stowell (1981: 263) observed the acceptability of a PRO subject in adjunct SCs (cf. (i), ((ii)) vs its unacceptability in a subcategorized complement-SC (cf. (iii)):

    1. (i)
    1.   Scott wandered home [PRO drunk].

    1. (ii)
    1.   The farmer loaded the truck [PRO full of hay].

    1. (iii)
    1. *I expect [PRO off this ship (by midnight)].

32Given this non-distinctness, an anonymous reviewer raises the possibility that the secondary predicate is an independent sentence with a pronominal null subject. Evidence against this view and in favour of the one-sentence analysis are the constraints observed for the matrix VP and object DP as well as the unacceptability of secondary predicates in wh-questions. These constraints would be difficult to explain if two independent sentences were involved.

33Tang Ting-chi (2000: 209) is in general more cautious concerning the existence of SCs in Chinese and explicitly states the controversial nature of this issue. However, like many others, he misanalyses double object verbs (e.g. jiào ‘call sb. something’) as ECM verbs (cf. Section 5.2 below).

34 is a v-like head that selects a verbal projection, whose specifier hosts the object DP (cf. Whitman & Paul 2005; Paul 2015, chapter 2).

35Adjectives are only acceptable in the parse shown in (i), where is not the ditransitive verb ‘abusively call sb. names’, but the transitive verb ‘scold sb.’ which in addition can select a clausal complement ‘scold sb. for doing sth.’ Accordingly, the nominal predicate shǎguā ‘fool’ requires the copula:

    1. (i)
    1. 1SG
    1. scold
    1. i
    2. 3SG
    1. [TP
    2.  
    1. proi
    2.  
    1. {bù
    2.   NEG
    1. cōngmíng /
    2. be.intelligent/
    1. shǎhūhūde}/
    2. be.foolish /
    1. *(shì)
    2.     be
    1. shǎguā].
    2. fool
    1. ‘I scolded him [TP because he was not clever/he was so foolish/he was a fool/].’

36Thanks to Ora Matushansky for referring me to Stassen (1997) and his treatment of the stance verb ‘be at’ as a copula-like verb selecting AdpPs. However, zài ‘be at’ in Chinese is different both from the copula shì ‘be’ and copula-like become type verbs in allowing for an empty object, on a par with transitive verbs:

    1. (i)
    1. Li
    1. lǎoshī
    2. teacher
    1. jīntiān
    2. today
    1. NEG
    1. zài
    2. be.at
    1. bàngōngshì,
    2. office
    1. Zhāng
    2. Zhang
    1. lǎoshī
    2. teacher
    1. also
    1. NEG
    1. zài.
    2. be.at
    1. ‘Professor Li is not in the office today, and Professor Zhang is not [there], either.’

    1. (ii)
    1. 3SG
    1. rènshi
    2. know
    1. Li
    1. lǎoshī,
    2. teacher
    1. 1SG
    1. also
    1. rènshi.
    2. know
    1. ‘He knows Professor Li, I know [him], too.’

37PostPs with a NumP-complement may exceptionally be autonomous predicates (still excluding shì ‘be’), on a par with NumPs (cf. (65), (66) above).

38We concentrate on the dichotomy NP vs AdjP here, given that become verbs in English do not selects PPs, either. Dāng ‘function as, be’ in (110) is still another verb (also cf. (1) above), different from the homonyms just discussed in Section 5.3.

39This is the so-called descriptive complement presented in the literature as a postverbal manner adverb, an exception to the otherwise exclusively preverbal position for all adverbs (cf. a.o. Huang 1982, Ernst 2002). Cf. Paul (2017b) for arguments against this standard view and evidence in favour of its analysis as part of a complex predicate, building on an early proposal by Huang (1992), not followed up by either Huang or other Chinese linguists.

40Tang Sze-Wing (1998) and Wei Ting-chi (2007) do not take into account AdpPs at all, but only discuss alleged SCs with NPs and scalar (predicative) AdjPs, a non-conclusive scenario, as explained above. In addition, many of Tang’s example sentences are rejected by other native speakers. For a clear-headed critique of Tang (1998), both on empirical and theoretical grounds, cf. Balazs (2012).

41Even if nominal SCs were admitted for Chinese, further subdivisions of SCs into bare vs rich SCs would be irrelevant, because they crucially involve an SC-analysis of matrix copular clauses with both nominal and adjectival predicates. According to Pereltsvaig (2001: 46), equative copular clauses involve a bare SC with a flat binary structure, i.e. [DP=SC DP DP], whereas non-equative, predicational copular sentences involve a rich SC: [SC=vP v° NP/AP]. This is different from Moro (1997), where all copular clauses feature bare SCs, i.e. [SC DP XP], while the complement of believe type verbs is a rich SC with a PredP: [SC=PredP DP [Pred° XP]].

Abbreviations

BA = high v-like head preceding the object in the construction, CL = classifier, IMP = imperfective aspect, NEG = negation, PERF perfective aspect, PL = plural (e.g. 3PL = 3rd person plural), PROGR = progressive aspect, SG = singular, SUB = subordinator

Acknowledgements

This article is the result of work started several years ago and presented in its different stages at universities in Milan, Paris, Taipei and Tromsø. I would like to thank Lin Jo-Wang, Liu Chang, Luther Liu, Lu Yaqiao and Qiu Yiqin for comments and data. I am particularly indebted to Yan Shanshan, Zhitang Yang-Drocourt and Wei Haley Wei, for their competence, enthusiasm and patience. I also gratefully acknowledge valuable feedback from Ora Matushansky, Johan Rooryck and John Whitman. The three anonymous Glossa reviewers generously gave of their time and expertise, pointed out necessary improvements and helped me to sharpen my arguments. Any remaining errors are my responsibility.

Competing interests

The author is an Associate Editor for Glossa. She was not involved in any editorial activity related to the processing of this paper.

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