'Again' and 'again': a grammatical analysis of you and zai in Mandarin Chinese

Tzong-Hong Jonah Lin, Chi-Ming Louis Liu
2009 Linguistics  
This paper analyzes the two elements in Mandarin Chinese that denote repetition, you 'again' and zai 'again'. It has been assumed that you occurs in realis contexts, whereas zai occurs in irrealis contexts. We observe that in fact you may occur in irrealis contexts and zai in realis context; furthermore, we argue that these two elements should be distinguished in terms of the structural positions they adjoin to and the event structures they modify, rather than the realis and irrealis contexts.
more » ... irrealis contexts. We adopt Shen's (2004) framework of phrase structure and event structure for Chinese sentences, and show that you adjoins to a dynamic AspP , and for zai to a static vP. Our analysis accounts for a number of phenomena pertaining to you and zai, including their relative structural heights, and their ability to change the event structure of the predicate. We also show that the scope of repetition of you and zai is sensitive to the event structure of the predicate; this is in agreement with the discoveries from recent researches on the repetitive and restitutive readings of again. 'Xiaoming is coming again tomorrow.' Xiaoming qiantian gei Xiaohua yi bai kuai, Xiaoming the-day-before-yesterday give Xiaohua one hundred dollar zuotian zai gei ta liang bai. yesterday again give him two hundred 'Xiaoming gave Xiaohua one hundred dollars the day before yesterday, and [he] gave him two hundred (more) again yesterday.' (5) is a modal sentence (with the aspectual modal verb yao 'being going to' as the head of the predicate), yet you occurs in it without any unacceptability. (6) is an event-reporting sentence, though zai occurs in it. These sentences indicate that the realis/irrealis contrast is actually not a criterion to distinguish the elements you and zai. Deeper generalizations must be sought for the licensing of these two elements. This work aims at clarifying the licensing conditions for the elements you and zai. We make the following proposals. (i) You adjoins to AspP, and zai adjoins to vP. (ii) You adjoins to a predicate that is [+dynamic]; if it adjoins to a static predicate, it induces the merger of the dynamic light verb dlv (Shen 2004) to the structure and thereby turning the predicate into dynamic. (iii) Zai is licensed when the predicate it adjoins to denotes an event that is cognitively a continuation of, or result from, an earlier event of the same nature.
doi:10.1515/ling.2009.041 fatcat:ensydplaobgkdjpalofmyizb3i