Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2215-1354
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1362
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Under Talmy’s (2000a) framework of Figure and Ground segregation, this paper examines the word order variation between constructions [NP V- NP] and [NP V- NP] regarding Chinese existential phenomenon, that is, . ‘Bees swarm in the garden.’ and ‘The garden swarms with bees.’

In this data-driven study, 263 monosyllabic verbs are investigated and 1456 news texts are collected for a quantitative analysis. This study has successfully identified linguistic factors that can better account for the distributional patterns of the word order alternation in the corpora. Results of the VARBRUL analysis indicate that topicality of the post verbal NP and definiteness of Figure NP play a relatively crucial role in determining the word order choice, while semantic type of verb and animacy of Figure NP are less influential. This paper presents a variationist perspective on the motivations that trigger the use of Chinese existential construction [NP V NP].


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