• Yen-Hui Audrey Li
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 19)


In this work I started with the problem of Chinese word order with respect to Universal Grammar as characterized by both typological and generative grammarians. My thesis was to show that, despite the apparently insurmountable problem of reaching descriptive adequacy and justified doubt concerning the appropriateness of imposing an abstract notion (the notion of abstract Case) onto a language without morphological indication, a Case account of constituent structures in Chinese proves to be the most plausible solution. The analysis showed not only that the heated controversy over Chinese word order among Chinese linguists can be resolved but also that the typological studies of word order can be maintained by taking into account different levels of structures and that the generative modular approach to word order can be sustained without resorting to language-specific and construction-specific rules. More significantly, the process of searching for descriptive adequacy and justifying the existence of abstract Case in Chinese brought to light many interesting generalizations regarding Chinese grammar in particular and Universal Grammar in general. The discussion also raised theoretical issues and shed light on controversial topics. I will briefly summarize the findings and issues below.


Word Order Case Theory Universal Grammar Case Assignment Ergative Verb 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yen-Hui Audrey Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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