How Subjective Is the Subject?

A Fresh Look at Grammatical Relations in Mandarin Chinese

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



This article re-examines the issue of grammatical relations in Mandarin Chinese in light of the results of recent large-scale typological research on grammatical relations (henceforth GRs) worldwide. Specifically, it discusses three syntactic operations and constructions that are cross-linguistically relevant to the definition of grammatical relations, namely relativisation, reflexivisation, and quantifier float. The study adopts a strictly language-internal typological approach and avails itself of natural linguistic data or sentences sanity-checked by native speakers. The aim of this paper is twofold: first, it explores the hypothesis that, in line with various other languages, GRs in Mandarin Chinese are construction-specific. Second, it proposes an alternative approach capable of explaining the conflicting evidence often pointed out in the literature on GRs and subjecthood in Mandarin Chinese.

June 25, 2018
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March 2, 2018