Covert reflexive argument in inalienable relational nouns

Alan Hezao Ke, Acrisio Pires


This paper argues that inalienable relational nouns in Mandarin Chinese, specifically kinship nouns (e.g. father, sister) and body-part nouns (e.g. head, face), have an implicit reflexive argument. Based on a syntactic comparison between kinship nouns, body-part nouns, and locally and long-distance bound reflexives, we argue that the implicit reflexive arguments of kinship nouns and body-part nouns differ from each other: The implicit argument of body-part nouns must be locally bound, whereas that of kinship nouns can either be locally bound or long-distance bound. Therefore, we conclude that these two types of implicit arguments in Mandarin Chinese correspond to locally and long-distance bound reflexives, respectively. Finally, we relate this difference to binding theory and the theory of logophoricity.


relational nouns; body-part nouns; kinship nouns; inalienable possession; implicit argument; reflexive; logophor

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Copyright (c) 2018 Alan Hezao Ke, Acrisio Pires

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