University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


In this paper, I examine the nominal structure in Mandarin Chinese (MC). Specifically, I discuss the issue of whether the DP projection is always present in syntax (the Universal DP Hypothesis) or the existence of DP may be dependent on languages (the DP/NP Parameter). Based on a test established in Despić (2009), I examine the relevant data in MC and argue that, contrary to the claim traditionally held in the literature, DP does not exist in MC. Using tests from binding paradigm, it is further shown that classifiers do head their own projections in MC, as previously argued in the literature. Similar examination is also applied to Japanese to show that Japanese behaves alike with MC in two respects. First, DP does not exist in Japanese, either. Second, classifiers are also heading their projection, not merely adjoined to NPs. Lastly, as a result of the paradigm, I discuss some of the consequences on the nature of classifiers and argue that, while classifiers in MC and Japanese are enclitics and need a preceding host, classifiers in Cantonese are free morphemes and can occur alone by themselves.