24.4359, Review: Semantics; Syntax: Shibagaki (2013)

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Subject: 24.4359, Review: Semantics; Syntax: Shibagaki (2013)

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Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2013 08:18:35
From: Benjamin Brosig [benjamin at ling.su.se]
Subject: Analysing Secondary Predication in East Asian Languages

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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/24/24-484.html

AUTHOR: Ryosuke  Shibagaki
TITLE: Analysing Secondary Predication in East Asian Languages
PUBLISHER: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
YEAR: 2013

REVIEWER: Benjamin Brosig, Stockholm University

In “Analysing Secondary Predication in East Asian Languages”, Ryosuke
Shibagaki compares the syntactic structure of resultatives and adjective
depictives in the East and Central Asian languages Mandarin Chinese, Japanese,
Khalkha Mongolian and Korean within the framework of Government Binding by
applying a number of syntactic and semantic tests to constructed sentences
judged by a small number of informants.

For Mandarin (pp. 7-54), the main syntactic types under discussion are
consequence depictives like John chi[1]-ni[4] le man[2]tou J. eat-bored PFV
bun ‘John ate the bun and became bored with doing so’ that exhibit a sequence
of events with a weak causal relationship and always refer to the subject, and
canonical resultatives like John da[3]-po[4] le bo[1]-li J. hit-broken PFV
glasses ‘John hit the glass broken’ that are always object-oriented. These are
tested with time adverbials and clefting, indicating properties of consequence
depictives somewhere in-between depictives and resultatives. This is followed
by a critique of the previous literature about orientation patterns, and
culminates into an analysis along patterns of causation and aspect such as
[event [event x ACT ON-y] CAUS-ind [event BECOME [state x BE AT-y]]].

The discussion of Japanese (pp. 55-174) is about as long as the other three
main chapters combined. Both intransitive resultatives (there are no
transitive subject-oriented resultatives in Japanese) and object-oriented
resultatives can always be marked with -ni, while the additional suffix -ku
can be applied to the latter only if the adjective is a term denoting colour
or shape. Depictives are marked by -de. The test battery for resultatives
consists of:

(i) insertion of 10 pun-kan/-de ‘for/in ten minutes’ to detect telicity (only
telic ...-de possible)
(ii) paraphrasing with onaziyoo ‘in the same way’ (impossible, as it would
indicate adverbials instead)
(iii) VP nominalization (-ni can be replaced by -e for goal, but not for
resultative phrases)
(iv) being the target of wh-question, pseudo-clefting and do-so-replacement
(e.g. the resultative must be subsumed under soo si-ta ‘did so’, i.e., it is
within the VP)
 (v) insertion of overt notional subjects (impossible)
 (vi) combination of two resultatives (impossible)
 (vii) replacement with antonyms (impossible)
(viii) morphological properties of lexical items as an additional heuristics.

Japanese resultatives are thus analyzed as part of the VP, namely, [VP [NPi]
[V’ [XP [[pro-i] [resultative predicate]] V]. Those canonical resultatives are
then contrasted to a number of predicates claimed to be resultatives in some
of the previous literature, which can be excluded on the basis of the tests
mentioned above. The section concludes with a discussion of lexical properties
of resultative adjectives based on the previous literature. A mostly identical
test battery is applied to depictives (non-telic, not paraphrasable by
onaziyoo, coordinatable, not targetable by wh-questions, can, but needn’t be
clefted (for subject-depictive), notional subject impossible, no particular
semantics required (cf. antonym test)), placing subject depictives under T’ or
vP, while object depictives occupy a somewhat lower position. Discussions
about fake depictives, the lexical properties of depictives, and aspect
(stative vs. inchoative, lexical vs. syntactical) follow.

The sections on Khalkha Mongolian (pp. 175-224) and Korean (pp. 225-254)
basically follow the pattern established in the chapter on Japanese, though no
sources (of any kind) have been used for Mongolian, and the discussion of
previous research on Korean is considerably less extensive than the
discussions of Mandarin and Japanese.

Mongolian resultatives, marked with the converb -tal, only combine with the
telic time adverbials, cannot be clefted, have to be included during
do-so-replacement, only work with one item of an antonym pair, allow for
notional subjects that can take accusative in case of differential subject
marking and cannot be scrambled to the position behind the resultative, and
can occur more than once in a sentence iff non-identical notional subjects are
present. Ultimately, Mongolian resultatives are identified as not belonging to
the complement type and, as pseudo-resultatives, are posited at no less than
three different positions: subject resultatives as TP under T’ and TP under vP
and object resultatives as TP under V’. Potential depictives are divided into
the following types: Dorj Tuyaa-g a. nücgen-eer / b. nücgen-eer=n’ / c.
nücgen-eer=ee / d. nücgen bai-h-ad / e. nücgen bai-h-ad=n’ / f. nücgen
bai-h-d=aa / g. nücgen shalga-san ‘Dorj examined Tuyaa naked’ (pp. 194-195).
Here, -aar is the instrumental case, =aa is reflexive-possessive (i.e.
indicates that the possessor is the subject of the clause in which it occurs),
=n’ indicates a third person non-subject possessor, and bai-h-ad is
COP-NPST.PTCP-DAT. Of these, a and g are said to be ambiguous, while b, d, e
are subject-oriented and c and f non-subject-oriented. The test battery
consists of adilhan (hopefully the same as onaziyoo), the temporal adverbials
(only atelic), pseudo-cleft (needs the depictive to stay within the VP for
object depictives, while both OK for subject depictives), do-so-replacement
(OK for ambiguous types, * for baihad, ? for the rest), insertion of a
notional subject (OK with baihad(=n’/=aa)), scrambling (OK except for baihad;
the ambiguous forms stay ambiguous), two
subject-depictives/object-depictives/mixed depictives with notional subject
(OK with baihad(=n’/=aa)), two depictives with identical orientation without
notional subject (all *), wh-extraction (all ?/??), and orientation towards
obliques (mixed results). As a result, a, c, f and g with their
subject-orientation can either occur under T´ or vP, while the object-oriented
depictives a, b, d and g occur under VP and d under V’. d, e and f, due to the
possible insertion of a notional subject, are not small clauses and thus

The analysis of Korean is peculiar in that secondary predicates with -lo are
claimed to exhibit the properties of canonical resultatives and depictives,
only to be ignored in the following discussion based on test batteries solely
applied to predications in -key that are found to lack the properties of
either canonical resultatives or depictives (e.g., both allowing for a
notional subject to be added).

Linguistic evidence and a lack of concern for it is the book’s major
shortcoming. Shibagaki relied on a single linguist native speaker for Khalkha,
and on just two linguist native speakers of Korean. Single native speakers
will regularly fail to recognize some situations in which certain sentences
could be felicitously uttered, and linguist informants might perceive
linguistic data according to the schemes they were trained to believe, such
as, e.g., an extreme gradability of grammaticality judgments. A belief in
universal linguistic structure may worsen matters. For Korean and in some
cases even for Chinese, Shibagaki was comfortable enough to take sentences
marked by “?” and “OK/??” as proof of grammatically acceptable sentences
without further discussion. (I don’t understand why “OK/??” is used instead of
“OK/?”, as two question marks indicate something worse than just one question
mark at least on p. 76.) The situation is somewhat better for Japanese where
the author often does discuss sentences marked with “?” before accepting them.
But even here he is not consistent: on p. 76, the grammaticality of 49b (“?”)
is argued for on the basis of gut feeling rather than reasoning, and on p. 77
Shibagaki states that an example marked as “?” is lexically problematic but
grammatically fine, which would require such a division to be cognitively real
in the first place. Handling of evidence might also be fair for Chinese where
he relied on “a number of native Mandarin (non-)linguists from Beijing,
Nanjing, Hong Kong and Taiwan” (p. 7), though Hong Kong is not particularly
known for its Mandarin speakers.

A similar indifference toward linguistic evidence is probably behind
Shibagaki's approach to phonemes. Mandarin was transcribed without tones,
leading to drastic underdifferentiation. For Mongolian, /tsʰ/ and /ts/ are
both written as < z >, /ʉ/ and /ʊ/ both as < u >, and non-initial /i/ and some
of the instances of palatalization as < i >. Similarly, he doesn’t
differentiate between functions and word classes, speaking of adverbs instead
of adverbials (passim) and adjectival forms instead of attributive forms (p.

As both the discussion of Chinese and Japanese intensively engage with and are
well integrated into discussions from previous literature, there is little
doubt that they actually contribute to our understanding of these forms,
whether one is inclined to side with Shibagaki or, as a non-generativist would
have to do, to put forward an alternative analysis. Given the rather thin
evidence employed in the chapter on Korean, I am not confident that as much
may be said here. The data for Mongolian cannot be readily used as it is. I
discussed a number of Shibagaki’s examples with four informants. While too
small to create unproblematic evidence, this limited sample should be
sufficient to show how questionable grammaticality judgments on Mongolian are
in this book.

One of the most problematic examples is the use of resultatives with atelic
and depictives with telic time adverbials, which might have been considered
ungrammatical on the basis of linguistic prejudice based on grammatical
training. In all examples below, the orthography was modified to be phonemic
and English names were replaced with Mongolian ones:

*[sic!] Dorj ene metal-iig 10 minut-iin tursh havtgai bol-tol davt-san. (p.
D. DEM.PROX metal-ACC 10 minute-GEN during flat become-CVB.until hammer-PST
‘Dorj hammered the [this!] metal flat for 10 minutes.’

*[sic!] Dorj Tuyaa-g nücgen-eer=n’ 10 minut-iin dotor shalga-san. (p. 199)
D. T.-ACC naked-INS=3POSS 10 minute-GEN within examine-PST
‘Dorj examined Tuyaa-i naked-i in ten minutes.’

“tursh” ‘during/for’ in (1) was immediately accepted by all four informants,
as was “dotor” ‘within’ in (2). In both cases, the event was understood to be
completed (as is implied by the use of the perfect to perfective past form
-san, the only difference being that the event with “tursh” took the entire 10
minutes for completion, while the event with “dotor” most likely lasted for
less than 10 minutes. The reason this test doesn’t work might be that the
English adverbials Shibagaki had in mind have no one-to-one correspondence in
Mongolian. Similarly, Shibagaki assumed from previous studies that “another
typical characteristic of a real resultative construction” is “that only one
of the antonym pairs qualifies as a resultative predicate in a resultative
sentence” (p. 181):

Dorj ene conh-iig ceverhen/ *[sic!] bohir bol-tol arch-san. (p. 181)
D. DEM.PROX window-ACC clean / dirty become-CVB.until wipe-PST
‘Dorj wiped this window clean / *dirty.’

Informants are fine with the variant with “bohir” ‘dirty’ if provided with a
plausible context, e.g. some condition that prevents Dorj from noticing that
he is wiping a clean window with a dirty cloth. Two informants suggested an
alternative interpretation in which it was Dorj himself who got dirty, though,
as this point differs over my informants, it would require further

In one set of cases, a mismatch between (possibly) acceptable Mongolian
sentences and their actual meaning was caused by presupposing a universal
linguistic structure, while ignoring well-documented features of Mongolian
grammar. Here, Mongolian sentences with a direct object and a dative-marked
recipient were equated with the English (“UG”?) Double Object Construction,
while the examples “with the preposition ruu ‘to’” “represent the dative
counterpart of the double object construction” (p. 215):

Dorj ene zahia-g Tuyaa-d / Tuyaa[-]ruu nücgen-eer=n’ ög-sön. (p. 215, 216)
‘Dorj gave Tuyaa this letter naked [=without envelope].’
/ ‘Dorj gave this letter to Tuyaa naked [=without envelope].’

Dorj Tuyaa-ruu nücgen [D/T] / nücgen-eer=ni [?T] / nücgen-eer [D/T] yar`-san.
‘Dorj spoke to Tuyaa naked.’

Virtually any English or Japanese language grammar of Khalkha Mongolian
explains that “ruu” is subject to vowel harmony and irregular initial
consonant dissimilation. It must thus be regarded as a case suffix (and of
course neither as a prefix nor preposition). More crucially, -ruu expresses a
more specific meaning, namely, directionality: ‘down towards’ > ‘towards’. It
is thus not applicable to recipients. My informants are divided about whether
(4) with -ruu is acceptable, with two rejecting and two basically accepting
it. Whether considered well-formed or not, it does manage to convey the
meaning that Dorj gave the letter to somebody else who subsequently handed it
to Tuyaa. (5) rather means that Dorj PHONED Tuyaa naked. The semantic oddity
and subsequent overall problematic acceptability of (4) does affect the
suitability of these examples to determine which syntactic phrases depictives
can relate to, even though they still represent oblique arguments, as intended
by Shibagaki.

Other instances of questionable grammaticality judgments include the examples
of the aspectlessness of small clauses in Mongolian (both variants of the
sentence in p. 183, footnote 1 are acceptable, and neither contains a small
clause), do-so replacement (which works just fine, at least for 36a-c on p.
204), coordination of depictive adjuncts (which appears not to work for
examples like 39a on p. 207 containing bai-had=n’ without a significant break
between the phrases that probably indicates reconsideration, while it seems to
work with two instrumentals without reflexive-possessive marking in sentences
like 45f. on p. 213 -- unconditionally accepted by 2 informants, while the
other 2 were slightly unsure), and wh-extraction (which works fine as well).

I conclude that Shibagaki’s data on Mongolian is not reliable enough to be
used for typological work without additional research. A more serious attempt
to come to terms with problematic data might start with a corpus as the source
of sentences presented to informants, and work with a larger number of
informants, either both qualitatively and quantitatively or just
qualitatively. Shibagaki could also have used visual stimuli, so that
informants produce the sentences in question rather than just confirm them.

This being said, parts of Shibagaki’s analysis can certainly be defended, but
how much of it is new? In Brosig 2009, found in Shibagaki’s bibliography but
not quoted, I discussed bare adjectives and adjectives in -aar as depictives,
while ADJ+baihad was a priori excluded (as they obviously don’t belong to the
same prosodic unit as the main predicate, thus failing Schultze-Bernd and
Himmelmann’s (2001: 77-78) definition of depictives). And they also take a
different scope from actual depictives:

?[sic!] Dorj Tuyaa-g nücgen bai-h-d=aa / nücgen-eer=ee shalga-san, harin
Baatar sogtuu bai-h-d=aa / sogtuu-gaar=aa teg-sen.
‘Dorj-i examined Tuyaa naked-i, but Baatar-j did so drunk-j.’ (p. 204)

Both variants were translated identically. However, with baihdaa, Dorj and
Baatar examined Tuyaa within a longer period during which they were naked and
drunk, respectively, while the use of the instrumental -aar implies that these
states are exactly simultaneous with the main predication, that is, Dorj and
Baatar got naked and drunk on purpose expressly to examine Tuyaa. (As this
rarely coincides with real world experience, informants indeed considered the
second variant a bit strange without context.) As in the case of the directive
“ruu” discussed above, knowing something about the meaning of the sentences
investigated (that, given different forms, is expected to be non-identical)
would have furthered the investigation.

There are other instances where Brosig 2009 contradicts or supplements
Shibagaki 2012, and discussing those might have been helpful. For instance,
while it is not controversial that the notional subjects with bare adjective
depictives that Shibagaki constructed ad hoc are ungrammatical, that doesn’t
necessarily mean that such notional subjects are altogether impossible, e.g.
“tergüün ihemseg yav-” head haughty go- ‘walk about haughtily’ was attested in
my corpus. I am not certain how such an example would have influenced
Shibagaki’s analysis, and I would have liked to know. Moreover, while
Shibagaki would probably have been able to refute most of my rather brief and
clumsy discussion on resultatives (quite parallel to what he did include into
his pseudo-resultative section on Japanese), I still wonder whether some
instances of the word class that has been termed “descriptive adverbs” in
Mongolian studies (e.g. Sechenbaatar 2003: 166-167) might qualify as
resultatives (and, in that case, as real ones, not being subordinate converbal
clauses as those marked by -tal):

Hödölmör-iin baatr-iin gar-iig huga coh’-jee.
movement-GEN hero-GEN hand-ACC into.pieces hit-2HAND.PST
‘[Somebody] hit the hand of the hero of labour very severely / so that it

Finally, some editorial issues have to be mentioned: cross-referencing between
chapters is poor, with a number of dead links (reference in 4.1 to 4.1 on p.
26, cross-reference to 3.3 instead of 3.4 on p. 69 and p. 89, reference to the
non-existing footnote 62 on p. 221 instead of to chapter 4 footnote 1, etc.),
and pages 83-86 are missing (at least in my copy). “Int[ended meaning]” is
used inconsistently, a few examples (e.g., p. 208) are aligned with
cut-and-paste translations from other examples, the Mongolian copula is
written -bai instead of bai- (p. 209) and the verb teg ‘do so’ should be teg-
(p. 203). There are slight translation mistakes such as demonstratives missing
in the translations on p. 179 cited above and 187. The English overall is
rather poor, though perfectly intelligible. While such mistakes are almost
unavoidable, they are too numerous to have made it into print.

In summary, Shibagaki’s work sheds some new light on resultatives and
depictives in Chinese, Japanese and Mongolian. However, for Korean and to a
lesser degree Mongolian, it is regrettable that only part of the relevant data
was discussed, leaving the picture incomplete. Moreover, the sections on
Mongolian and Korean rely on problematic evidence, and a certain degree of
carelessness with fitting evidence into his model can be observed in other
parts as well. As the grammatical judgments in the chapters on Mongolian and
Korean cannot be taken at face value, syntactic typologists and generativist
theoreticians, surely among the target audience of this book, won’t be able to
make much direct use of such data.  Given that Shibagaki’s discussion does
have the potential to inspire further research into any of the four languages
analyzed, a very thoroughly revised version of this book might still make a
valuable contribution to the syntactic typology of secondary predicates.

Brosig, Benjamin. 2009. Depictives and resultatives in modern Khalkh
Mongolian. Hokkaidō gengo bunka kenkyū 7. 71-101.

Schultze-Bernd, Eva & Nikolaus Himmelmann. 2001. Depictive secondary
predicates in cross-linguistic perspective. Linguistic typology 8. 59-131.

Sechenbaatar, Borjigin. 2003. The Chakhar dialect of Mongol: a morphological
description. Helsinki: Finno-Ugrian society.

Benjamin Brosig is a doctoral candidate in general linguistics at Stockholm
University with a master's degree in Mongolian studies and general
linguistics, plus Japanese studies as a minor. His research interests range
from aspectuality, evidentiality and other morpho-syntactic verbal categories
over historical linguistics, dialect grammar and field linguistics to
politeness, with main expertise in Mongolic. Along with a dissertation on
aspect and evidentiality in Middle Mongol, Khalkha Mongolian and Khorchin
Mongolian, current or recent research activities concern negation in Mongolic,
the semantic field of temperature in Khalkha, and a documentation of Durvud
Oirat (led by Yu. Tsendee).

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