Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ordering and position of adverbials

I'm currently writing up a section that will compare Vietnamese with Chinese with respect to Huang's Postverbal Structure Constraint, which disallows the order v-NP-ADVP, where the NP is a bare non-referential object and ADVP is one of a set of adverbials expressing Frequency, Duration, Result or Manner. Leaving aside the issue of whether this constitutes a natural class of expressions, the main goal is to discover whether VN shows reflexes of this PSC. To get there, though, and for other reasons, it's useful to establish the normal order of adverbs where they appear pre-verbally, as well as post-verbally

Here's the text I'd like some help with:

First, Huang observes that—with the exception of a specific class of adverbial modifiers—adjunct phrases precede their heads. This is illustrated by the example in (9) (Huang's [5]):

(9) Zhangsan zuotian zai jiali toutou-de da-le yi-ge dianhua.
Zhangsan yesterday at home secretly do-Perf one-CL telephone
'Zhangsan made a telephone call secretly at home yesterday.'

The accompanying text implies that this word order Subject-Time-Place-subject-oriented-Manner-Main Verb} is obligatory, and that normal adverbials—that is to say, other than those elements discussed immediately below)—cannot appear postverbally. If this is the case, then this would seem to diverge from what is found in Vietnamese, where the order of normal adjuncts appears to be considerably freer: see section NN. However, since the order given in (9) is at least possible in Vietnamese,...

Is this so?

...we may temporarily ignore this difference, since the crucial point about adverb placement in Chinese relates to the cases given in (10) below (Huang's [9]) involving so-called FDRM elements (adverbs expressing Frequency, Duration, Result, or Manner). In such cases, the adverbials are obligatorily placed post-verbally:

(10) a. Zhangsan pao-le liang ci.
Zhangsan run-Perf two time
'Zhangsan ran twice.'

b. Zhangsan pao-le liang tian.
Zhangsan run-Perf two day [sic]
'Zhangsan ran two hours.'

c. Zhangsan pao-de hen lei.
Zhangsan run-RM very tired
'Zhangsan ran and got tired.'

d. Zhangsan pao-de hen kuai.
Zhangsan run-RM very fast
'Zhangsan runs fast.'

Q: do the corresponding adverbial types necessarily appear post-verbally in Vietnamese? (My admittedly very weak intuition is that—at least for (b) and (d)—these adverbials may also appear preverbally, as long as there is some type of heavy object. Can any native-speaker confirm or reject this?)

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