Adjectival modification in Mandarin: Evidence for the adjunction analysis

Candice Chi-Hang Cheung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This paper examines the interpretational properties and distributional patterns of adjectival modification with de in Mandarin, aiming to revive the adjunction approach to adjectival modification, against the alternative approach which takes adjectives as uniformly occupying the Specifier positions of different functional projections. Specifically, unlike previous studies which primarily focus on the distributional patterns of a single [Adj+de] sequence within a nominal expression, this paper mainly investigates collocated [Adj+de] sequences, and reveals that they not only show the same distributional patterns as a single [Adj+de] sequence, but may also give rise to two different interpretations, an observation which has gone unnoticed in the literature. Based on these observations, it is proposed that collocated [Adj+de] sequences are best analyzed on a par with a single [Adj+de] sequence as AP adjuncts, which can target three different positions, including a Determiner Phrase (DP), a Numeral Phrase (NumP) and a Noun Phrase (NP). As for the two readings available to collocated [Adj+de] sequences, they are proposed to be derived from different structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-62
Number of pages22
JournalStudies in Chinese Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adjectival modification
  • adjunct
  • specifier
  • collocated [Adj+de] sequences
  • Mandarin


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