THE CONSTITUENCY OF CLASSIFIER CONSTRUCTIONS IN MANDARIN CHINESE
Niina Ning Zhang
This paper examines the constituency of the construction that contains three elements: a numeral, a word that encodes a counting unit, such as a classifier or measure word, and a noun in Mandarin Chinese. It identifies three structures: a left-branching structure for container measures, standard measures, partitive classifiers, and collective classifiers; a right-branching structure for individual and individuating classifiers; and a structure in which no two of the three elements form a constituent, for kind classifiers. The identification is based on the investigation of four issues: the scope of a left-peripheral modifier; the dependency between the modifier of unit word and that of a noun; the complement and predicate status of the combination of a numeral and a unit word; the semantic selection relation between a unit word and a noun. The paper also shows that the co-occurrence of a numeral and a unit word and the position of certain partitive markers are not reliable in identifying syntactic constituents. It also argues against quantity-individual semantic mappings with different syntactic structures. Finally, the paper presents a comparative deletion analysis of the constructions in which the functional word de follows a unit word.
Key words: classifier, measure, constituent, left-branching, right-branching, Chinese