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Passives in Mandarin Chinese Li, Erica Wen


This thesis examines the syntactic properties of passive constructions in Mandarin Chinese within the framework of Government and Binding. The theoretical framework of analyzing passives is that of Baker, Johnson and Roberts (1989, henceforth BJR) and Hale and Keyser (1993). It is argued that what could be and should be analyzed as a passive in Mandarin Chinese is the construction characterized by the presence of bei, hence the so- called Jbei-construct ion. I further argue that this passive construction is derived by NP-movement, as is the case with English. I maintain BJR's proposal that Agent is always present in passives, be it null or overt. However, Chinese differs from English in that the overt NP is never realized as an adjunct, unlike the by NP phrase in English. A second goal of this thesis is to address the issue of what classes of verbs are eligible for passivization in Mandarin Chinese. I propose that by adopting the model of argument structure by Hale and Keyser (1993), and in particular, the idea that thematic structure of a predicate is represented syntactically in the lexicon, we can explain why passivization is restricted to certain transitive predicates. By proposing that the NP in [Spec VP] position is the target for passivization, the semantic notion of affected argument is captured syntactically.

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