University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


The syntax and the function of Chinese relative clauses have been a hot issue in linguistic studies, given that typologically modifiers of nominals rarely occur before a demonstrative (cf. Greenberg 1963, Cinque 2005), and yet pre-demonstrative relative clauses are common in Chinese. This paper presents an analysis of syntax and information structure of Chinese relative clauses and shows results of a corpus study and a production experiment. It is argued that pre-demonstrative relative clauses structurally express Focus at the nominal periphery, similar to Focus Phrase at the left-periphery of a sentence à la Rizzi (1997), deriving by nominal-internal Focus movement. The result of this paper proves the claim of the nominal-clausal parallelism (Abney 1987; Chomsky 1970; Giusti 1996, 2006; Aboh 2004) and the edge (phase) property of DP (Citko 2014) with Chinese data, and shows that features of information structure have syntactic and interpretive effects, suggesting that such features are active in narrow syntax (Miyagawa 2010).