Discontinuous predicates as partial deletion in Cantonese
Sheila Shu-Laam Chan, Tommy Tsz-Ming Lee, Ka-Fai Yip
October 2021

The empirical foundations of this paper concern the observation that a disyllabic verb in Cantonese can appear in discontinuous form when it takes verbal suffixes (Chan and Cheung 2021). Substantially, while a verb suffix canonically follows a verb, it can also intervene between the two syllables of the verb, leading to a discontinuous string of the verb. We suggest that the discontinuous strings in Cantonese involve a conspiracy of multiple operations in Narrow Syntax and in the Phonological Form (PF). We motivate a hybrid (syntactic + phonological) approach that preserves the lexical integrity of the verbs while allowing the (apparent) syllable separation. The crux of the proposal includes the following components: (i) Syntactic verb movement to affixes creates copies (Chomsky 1995, Nunes 1995); (ii) Post-syntactically, affixes trigger a PF syllable deletion rule on their host; (iii) Copy Deletion erases the complement part of the lower copy (i.e., partial deletion).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006283
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: to appear in UPenn Working Paper in Linguistics
keywords: discontinuous predicates, suffixation, partial deletion, syllable deletion, cantonese, syntax, phonology
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