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Chinese Sentence-Initial Indefinites: What Corpora Reveal

Anna Morbiato    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia; The University of Sydney, Australia     ORCID iD

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abstract

While the sentence-initial position in Chinese is generally related to givenness/definiteness, instances of informationally new or indefinite sentence-initial nps may be found in language in use. This paper systematically explores the phenomenon of sentence-initial indefinites (SIIs), their statistical relevance, and the interaction with features typically connected to linear order, such as animacy or locatability. Results of a quantitative and qualitative analysis conducted on three major big-size, generalised corpora show that SIIs in Chinese are not only possible, but also statistically relevant. Animacy and locatability are found to play a key role in increasing SIIs acceptability. Finally, data reveal a new pattern featuring SIIs with proper nouns.

Accepted
Aug. 18, 2020
Submitted
May 11, 2020
Language
EN
ISBN (PRINT)
978-88-6969-407-3
ISBN (EBOOK)
978-88-6969-406-6