The headedness of Mandarin Chinese serial verb constructions: A corpus-based study

Jingxia Lin, Chu-ren Huang, Huarui Zhang, Hongzhi Xu

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Existing treebanks of Mandarin Chinese such as the Sinica Treebank, the Harbin Institute of Technology Treebank, and the Penn Chinese Treebank, parse Chinese serial verb constructions incorrectly or inconsistently in terms of headedness, i.e. which verb to be assigned with the label of syntactic and/or semantic "head". Aspectual markers in serial verb constructions can help determine the head of these constructions (Li, 1991; among others). However, the majority of Chinese serial verb constructions do not have overt aspectual markers. Based on large-scale corpus studies, this work investigates the distribution of aspectual markers in Chinese serial verb constructions in order to explore which verb in the serial verbs is more likely to function as the head, and thus provides a reference for parsing serial verb constructions without overt aspectual markers. We find that contrary to previous studies such as Collins (1997), Law and Veenstra (1992) and Sebba (1987) that treat the first verb in a serial verb construction as the head, Chinese serial verb constructions more often have the second verb as the head. The results of this work can not only serve as a reference for automatic parsing of Chinese data, but also shed light on theoretical studies of the structure of serial verb constructions in Chinese and other serial verb languages.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 26th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation, PACLIC 2012
Pages428-435
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012
Event26th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation, PACLIC 2012 - Bali, Indonesia
Duration: 7 Nov 20127 Nov 2012

Conference

Conference26th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation, PACLIC 2012
Country/TerritoryIndonesia
CityBali
Period7/11/127/11/12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Software

Cite this