Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1877-7031
  • E-ISSN: 1877-8798
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This paper examines a non-canonical passive construction in Chinese. In this construction, the passive marker can proceed a constituent including intransitive verbs, adjectives and nouns, in such expressions as /‘commit suicide,’ /‘happy’ or /‘high speed train.’ Following Mental Space Theory (Fauconnier 19941997), this paper argues that the construction serves as a space builder, which prompts conceptualizers to build a counterfactual space to hold the event conveyed by the constituent but deny the event or its associated assumption in the base space. The Mental Space operations produce the interpretations of the construction featured by ambiguity and irony. This study demonstrates the existence of dedicated counterfactual constructions in Chinese. It showcases an attempt to posit cognitive operations as the constructional function and outlines a cognitively plausible procedure to derive specific interpretations of the construction in the context.

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