[LaGraM] Xiaofang ZHOU (UMR 7023)
Xiaofang ZHOU (UMR 7023)
Copula ‘shi’ in Mandarin Chinese: different distributions
Copula ‘shi’ in Mandarin Chinese (MC) is not totally on a par with the copula ‘be’ in English. What I focus on in this talk is about its different distributions.
The copula ‘shi’ can be prohibited, optionally or obligatorily used in sentences. In adjective predicative sentences, there are some adjectives which behave as predicates without the aid of the copula ‘shi’; however, there are also some adjectives which cannot function as predicates on their own. When in a predicative function, the copula ‘shi’ and the particle ‘de’ are obligatory. According to these two observations, I propose that behaviors of copula ‘shi’ depend on properties of two types of adjectives: predicative and non-predicative. Moreover, the copula ‘shi’ must be used in the sentences which receive contrastive or assertive readings. By contrast, the copula ‘shi’ is optionally or obligatorily used in nominal predicative sentences. For this case, I suppose that the distributional restrictions of copula ‘shi’ relate to the lexical content of nominal phrases, the presence of TAM expressions in MC or different sentential readings. From the different distributions of the copula ‘shi’, I try to find out the real role of the copula ‘shi’ and sketch structures of the sentences with or without copula ‘shi’.