Measure phrase modification in name adjective constructions in Mandarin
Keywords:gradable adjectives, measure phrase modification, antonym pairs
AbstractMuch research has shown that measure phrases elicit an asymmetry in acceptability between positive vs. negative members of gradable adjective antonym pairs (3m tall vs. *3m short) (Kennedy 1999; Schwarzschild 2005, and others). As in other languages, the measure phrase in Mandarin yi mi ‘1 meter’ is accepted as direct modifier of gao ‘tall’ and rejected by the negative antonym ai ‘short’. However, when the adjective combines with name ‘so’, this measure phrase is accepted by both positive and negative adjectives. In addition, name adjective expressions are ambiguous between two readings. Namely, the surprise reading and the equative reading. This paper accounts for the new data with two proposals: (1) name is a presupposition filter; (2) There is a silent morpheme Vec in name adjective expressions, which is in complementary distribution with overt measure phrases.
Published by the LSA with permission of the author(s) under a CC BY 4.0 license.