Referential impersonal constructions in Mandarin

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This paper provides an overview of referential impersonal constructions in Mandarin Chinese. It is shown that while like many European languages Mandarin utilizes generalized nouns, special person forms, regular personal pronouns and a zero pronoun in the subject position to encode impersonality, unlike in many other languages the impersonal use of the 3<sc>pl</sc> form &#8216;ta-men&#8217; is marginal. The range of uses associated with 3pl impersonals namely the universal, corporate, vague, inferential and specific existential (Cabredo Hofherr 2006) are rather preferentially rendered by the y&#335;u r&#233;n construction which is formally a combination of the existential verb y&#233;u, a generalized noun r&#233;n and a predicate whose agent is replaced by y&#233;u r&#233;n. Keywords: referential impersonalizing constructions; impersonality; Mandarin


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