Taiwan Journal of Linguistics

A Diamond Open Access Journal (free to authors and readers)
ISSN: 1729-4649 (print); 1994-2559 (online)


榮獲國科會人文學中心出版補助           Miao-Ling Hsieh
This study investigates the internal structure of noun phrases in Chinese and argues that number, referentiality, and totality/partitivity are all syntactically represented. Viewing number in a new light, it claims that number in a classifier language is syntactically encoded via the use of a #P, i.e., NumP, the head of which is occupied by a classifier/massifier (cf. Borer 2005). Plurality is realized differently in a #P via the use of numerals, the plural classifier xie, quantifiers, or the reduplication of classifiers/ massifiers. The plural marker -men is a derivational suffix marking either collective plurality or semantic plurality, resolving the problem that syntactic plurality may co-occur with semantic plurality when syntactic plurality marks an indeterminate quantity. Unlike the standard head-complement analysis that assumes a DP-NumP-ClP-DP hierarchy, this study argues that a numeral or a quantifier enters into a relation with a classifier/massifier, forming a #P. A #P (with or without a demonstrative) is then merged into the Spec of NP for the NP to take a pure quantificational interpretation and raises to the Spec of DP for a check of referential interpretation with the D(eterminer) head. The highest position, i.e., the Spec of KP, may be occupied by a #P for a totality/partitive interpretation (cf. Lamontagne and Travis (1986) for the use of K to represent Case). The evidence for the KP-DP-NP nominal hierarchy, analogous to the CP-TP-VP hierarchy at a clausal level, comes from different types of modifiers and the co-occurrence restrictions on the use of two #Ps. Theoretically, the ideas that a classifier/massifier is the locus of number and that a #P is able to occur in three different possible positions simplify the representation of a noun phrase with only three major layers. It is also shown that language may have the same functional categories, but the way they are combined may be different from language to language.


Miao-Ling Hsieh has a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Southern California. She has been teaching English and linguistics in the English department of National Taiwan Normal University since 2001. Her main research interests include syntactic theories, the interface between syntax and semantics and first language acquisition.