Volume 32, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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The derivation of Chinese denominal verbs has undergone a diachronic shift from freedom in Archaic Chinese to restriction in Post-Archaic Chinese. While denominal verbs in Archaic Chinese can be conveniently accommodated in a pragmatic account, those in Post-Archaic Chinese only yield to a syntactic account. The diachronic shift has arguably resulted from syntactic intervention: only those denominal verbs in Archaic Chinese that can possibly be derived in syntax have survived into Post-Archaic Chinese. In support of this hypothesis is the fact that the prefix *s- and qù shēng bié yì (“falling tone for sense distinction”), responsible for verbalization of nouns in Archaic Chinese, have ceased to operate and given way to zero categories in Post-Archaic Chinese, and the denominal verbs in Post-Archaic Chinese exhibit transparent semantic structures. These findings support the general view about the lexicon-syntax interface that word formation should not be reduced to either the lexicon or syntax alone.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Chinese; denominal verb; morphology; syntax; zero category
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