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Title: Economy principles and Chinese verbless sentences
Other Title: 经济原则和汉语没有动词的句子
Authors: Tang, SW
Issue Date: 2002
Source: 现代外语 (Modern foreign languages), 2002, v. 25, no. 1, p. 1-13
Abstract: 本文集中讨论语言学经济原则的问题,特别提出普遍语法有一个结构经济原则。根据这个原则,语言结构应该越少越好。这种“越少越好”的特点是相对的、不是绝对的、可以违反的。结构经济原则可能是语言使用的问题,具有“语言使用的创造性”的性质。透过讨论汉语没有动词的句子,本文认为汉语句子遵守结构经济原则。除非受到其他因素的影响,没有结构应该是最经济的手段。 更多还原
This paper centers around the issues related to economy principles in linguistics. In the Minimalist Program, there are two kinds of economy, namely ’methodological economy’ and ’substantive economy’. The former requires a simple and natural theory without ad hoc stipulations while the latter is mainly concerned about the nature of the grammar.Substantive economy can be further divided into two types: ’economy of derivation’ and ’economy of representation’. In this paper, the nature of economy of representation will be explored. Particularly, it is proposed that Universal Grammar has a principle of economy of representation dubbed as ’structural economy principle’, according to which language structure should be constructed minimally. Consequences of this principle will be discussed by using the data from Chinese ’verbless’ sentences.Three types of Chinese verbless sentences are discussed in this paper, namely nominal predicative sentences, empty copula sentences, and empty verb sentences. It is argued that nominal predicative sentences are bare nominal small clauses. The predicate nominal is predicated of the subject directly without any copula. Unlike nominal predicative sentences, there is a phonologically empty copula in empty copula sentences. The complement of the empty copula is a predicate nominal. Although there is also an empty verb in empty verb sentences, it is not a copula; instead, it can be either an intransitive verb that selects a frequency/duration phrase or a transitive verb that selects an object.Based on the Chinese verbless sentences, it is observed that nominal predication without a copula is the ’default’ option. If a verb is needed, its existence is required by the extended projections as well as thematic considerations. In a structure having a verb, an empty verb is always preferred unless it is prohibited by morphology or some functional considerations. It is argued that the existence of Chinese verbless sentences supports the structural economy principle.’Minimality’ of the structural economy principle is relative, not absolute, and violable. Unlike economy of derivation, globality seems to be involved in economy of representation. The nature of violability and globality of economy of representation is perhaps related to language use, sharing some properties of the creative aspect of language use.
Keywords: Economy principles
Economy of representation
Empty category
Language use
Publisher: 现代外语'出版社
Journal: 现代外语 (Modern foreign languages) 
ISSN: 1003-6105
Rights: © 2002 China Academic Journal Electronic Publishing House. It is to be used strictly for educational and research use.
© 2002 中国学术期刊电子杂志出版社。本内容的使用仅限于教育、科研之目的。
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