University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


In this paper, I argue that genitive possessors should be distinguished from possessive modifiers and that possessor extraction is allowed in Chinese. Unlike previous analyses that treat sentences with possessors at the sentence-initial position as involving base-generation, I show that the construction at issue is island sensitive. My point of departure is Boškovic’s (2005) generalization that adjunct extraction is not allowed in DP languages and I show that Chinese behaves in the same way. Along this line of analysis, I adopt his suggest that a language which has DP yet allows possessor extraction, like Hungarian, does so because the whole possessor phrase is located in SpecDP in such a language. I argue that the seeming discrepancy between extraction from within subject and object arguments is only apparent: subject possessors can be extracted by either A- or A'- movement, whereas object possessors can only be extracted via A'-movement. I show that the unstable acceptability of object extraction is not due to syntactic reasons, but because of the availability of proper information structure. The result of this study suggests that Boškovic’s (2005) observation about English and Hungarian is correct and Chinese behaves on a par with the latter type of language.