Cliticization and Old Chinese word order

Edith Aldridge

Abstract


This paper addresses the controversial question of whether Old Chinese was an OV or VO language. Evidence frequently cited for the OV analysis is the fact that objects sometimes surface in preverbal position. In this paper, I argue that basic word order in Old Chinese was uniformly VO. Preverbal objects achieved their position via movement. This is unsurprising, given that preverbal objects were typically wh-words and pronominal clitics. The primary evidence for the movement analysis, however, comes from the demonstration that it accounts for constraints on pronoun positioning which would be mysterious on a base-generation approach.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/exabs.v0i0.486