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Semantic and Pragmatic Factors in L2 Chinese “NP + unaccusative verb + numeral-classifer+Noun” Structure. Dr Boping Yuan

It has been recognized since Perlmutter’s (1978) Unaccusative Hypothesis that within the class of intransitive verbs, there are two subclasses, the unaccusative verb and the unergative verb. In Chinese, unaccusative verbs are distinguishable from unergative verbs and the single argument of an unaccusative verb, but not that of an unergative verb, can remain in the underlying object position as well as in preverbal position. When the single argument NP of the unaccusative verb is definite, it is not allowed to stay in situ and has to move to the preverbal position. In contrast, the single argument of the unergative verb is always in preverbal position whether it is definite or indefinite, and it is not allowed to be in postverbal position. In this study, we focus on the behaviours of “NP + unaccusative verb + numeral+classifer+Noun”, examining whether and in what way this structure is regulated by its semantic and pragmatic constraints in English speakers’ L2 Chinese grammars. More specifically, we want to investigate whether in English speakers’ L2 Chinese “NP + unaccusative verb + numeral+classifer+Noun” structure, the preverbal NP is a base-generated topic and does not have a thematic relation with the predicate, and the postverbal NP is an internal argument base-generated in the underlying object position and is marked with a inherent partitive case. In addition, we also want to investigate whether this sentence structure in English speakers’ L2 Chinese grammars is subject to both semantic and pragmatic constraints. Semantically, the internal argument must be indefinite if it is to remain in situ because definite NPs are not compatible with inherent partitive case. In addition, the verb used in this sentence structure must be an unaccusative verb of change of state or direction, and it cannot be an unergative verb. Pragmatically, this sentence structure is regulated by pragmatic conditions that the preverbal NP and the postverbal NP must form a close personal relationship or a part-whole relationship.