Conference Proceeding

A puzzle in Chinese dative shift

This paper investigates the possible alternations between Dative Constructions and Direct Object Constructions in Chinese.1 It argues that the semantic constraint on such alternations as proposed by Pinker (1989), Gropen et al. (1989), and Rappaport Hovav & Levin (2008) has to be coupled with syntactic constraints associated with the subcategorizatio framework of the dative verb in the lexicon. While English dative verbs can subcategorize for theme, goal, or benefactive, potential dative verbs in Chinese can only subcategorize for theme or goal. The limited subcategorization framework of these dative verbs reveals that Chinese does have limited argument structure in the lexicon (contra Lin’s 2001).