INVESTIGATING THE SYNTAX OF POSTVERBAL MODALS IN HAKKA
Jui-Yi Zoey Chung
This paper presents a syntactic account for the odd distribution of the postverbal modal element, tet, in Sixian Hakka, an SVO language in which a modal auxiliary precedes the main verb. Inspired by the cartographic approach (Cinque 1999, Rizzi 1997), I propose that the modal element tet patterns with regular modals in being syntactically higher than the VP, and the surface form is derived to satisfy the morphonological requirement of tet via either Move (of V-raising) or Merge (with the light verb zo ‘do’). Three types of tet sentences show the spectrum of modality across functional projections (Tsai 2010). Furthermore, the present analysis can explain the asymmetries of the three types of tet in the passivization and disposal construals as well as the interaction with certain adverbials. Finally, I compare tet with Cantonese dak (Cheng and Sybesma 2004), to achieve a broader cross-dialectal perspective. This analysis provides a better understanding of the mapping between syntax and semantics.
Key words: comparative syntax, cartography, postverbal modal, Hakka