A clitic analysis of locative particles

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21 Scopus citations


The syntactic status of locative particles such as shang 'on'., li 'in' has long been a problem in Chinese syntax. This paper reviews the properties of these particles and considers three approaches that have been proposed in the literature. We will show that all three approaches run into difficulty. We will then suggest that locative particles are best treated as clitics. They take the preceding NP as the scope and cliticize to the left. This analysis explains why locative particles cannot stand alone, why they do not behave exactly like nouns or postpositions, and it also gives the correct semantic interpretation for locative phrases containing complex NPs. Our analysis suggests that locative particles actually do not have a syntactic status; they are not assigned any syntactic category. Rather, they can be analyzed in a morphological theory which treats clitics as phrasal affixes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-70
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Chinese Linguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language


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