Control and Complementation in Parallel Constraint-based Architecture: An Empirically Oriented Investigation of Mandarin Chinese

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis presents an empirically oriented investigation into Mandarin-Chinese control and complementation. It provides an in-depth systematic classification of Chinese matrix predicates based on their control and complementation properties. The classification draws on a range of diagnostics, including cross-linguistically valid ones and language-specific ones. Besides incorporating corpus data, the study has adopted sentence-acceptability experiments followed by mixed-effects statistical analyses to test a subset of linguistic generalisations. The obtained empirical patterns are modelled within the parallel constraint-based architecture of Lexical-Functional Grammar, which is augmented by Glue Semantics and Partial Compositional Discourse Representation Theory to address issues at syntax-semantics-discourse interfaces. The empirical chapters (Chapter 2 and Chapter 3) focus on the control and complementation properties of the following lexical-semantic verb classes: aspectual, attitudinal, comitative, commissive, communication, desiderative, directive/permissive, factive, implicative, interrogative, and situational. Chapter 2 focuses on developing five types of linguistic diagnostics: (i) complementation diagnostics, which reveal phrasal structures, grammatical relations, and predicate-argument relations; (ii) coreferentiality diagnostics, which distinguish various control properties (e.g., obligatory, non-obligatory, exhaustive, partial, split, implicit, unconstrained); (iii) clausehood diagnostics; (iv) diagnostics for identifying the distribution of future modals (hui and yao) and aspectual markers (-le and -guo) in the complement clause, which has implications for a finiteness distinction for the complement clause; (v) diagnostics for revealing correlational relationships between control properties and two displacement phenomena -- inner topicalisation and focus fronting. Chapter 3 applies these five types of diagnostics systematically to every verb in the data set, resulting in detailed empirical classifications. The chapter also addresses issues related to finiteness, which is approached as a relative notion of semantic dependency in Chinese. Sentence-acceptability experiments, followed by cumulative link mixed-effects statistical analyses, have been adopted to test the generalisations related to inner topicalisation and focus fronting. The theoretical chapters (Chapter 4 and Chapter 5) focus on formal-language modelling. Chapter 4 addresses control relations at syntax-semantics-discourse interfaces by integrating Lexical-Functional Grammar with Glue Semantics and Partial Compositional Discourse Representation Theory. The discussion leads to a refined typology of model-theoretic control mechanisms, adding novel sub-types to the existing literature. Furthermore, the chapter addresses modelling complexities related to different classes of equi, partial-control variants, and (partial) copy control. Chapter 5 provides a formally explicit analysis for inner topicalisation and focus fronting, capturing their correlation with control and complementation properties. It also contributes to the modelling of restructuring effects and shows how restructuring constraints interact with other constraints in the formal grammar.
Date of Award31 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKersti Borjars (Supervisor) & Eva Schultze-Berndt (Supervisor)


  • formal grammatical theory
  • corpus data
  • acceptability-judgment experiments
  • Discourse Representation Theory
  • Glue Semantics
  • Lexical-Functional Grammar
  • syntax-semantics-discourse interfaces
  • control theory
  • restructuring
  • focus fronting
  • inner topicalisation
  • finiteness
  • complementation
  • Chinese

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