Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2213-8706
  • E-ISSN: 2213-8714
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This paper tackles the long-standing problem of the phrase structure of the descriptive V- construction in Mandarin, and proposes a variant of the Primary Predication analysis. I argue that the suffix - is a nominalizing head that turns the verb to which it attaches into a nominal event argument, which is in turn predicated over by the descriptive adjectival phrase, the primary predicate of the construction. This syntactic analysis allows for a straightforward explanation for the presupposition-focus semantics of this construction based on structured event quantification. In addition, it is shown that previous arguments that go against the Primary Predication hypothesis (including the distribution of the A-not-A form and negation, and the scope relation between an IP-level element and the adjectival phrase) either do not constitute counterevidence or are simply irrelevant. Further support for the proposal is provided that draws on a number of syntactic properties of the descriptive V- construction and on the distinction between the descriptive adjectival phrase on the one hand and secondary predicates and adverbial adjuncts on the other hand.


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