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Topic-comment sentences in Mandarin

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Monday, January 22, 2001, 3:35
[Sorry this is a bit OT, but I just wanted to followup on a recent
discussion with Douglas Koller, et. al]

I've been observing Mandarin speakers a bit more since our discussion
about that "pathological" example sentence that I had before:
        ta~1 chu3de fan4 wei4dao4 hen2 hao3     (may not be exact version)
        "The rice that he cooks has a good taste."

AFAIK, we concluded that thread with the consensus that this sentence
probably has elided a couple o' "de"'s. However, I'm not sure if this
explanation is necessarily that strong, because I've come across sentences
that are analogous in construction, but has no reason to drop the "de",
1)      che4 wan1 tang1 wei4dao4 hen3 shiang1
        this bowl soup  flavor   very aromatic
        "This bowl of soup has an aromatic flavor"
2)      ta~1 er2zhi3 ge4zhi3 hen3 gao1
        his  son     stature very tall
        "his son is very tall" (or, "his son has a tall stature")
3)      ta~1 du4zhi3 hen3 fei2
        his  belly   very fat
        "he has a large belly" (ie., "he's very fat")

Now the monkey wrench for whatever other explanations you may have had:
4)      na4  ny3hair2 tou2fa3 you4 chang2 ge4zhi1 you4 gao1
        that girl     hair    also long   stature also tall
        "that girl both has long hair and is tall"
        (hard to capture the meaning in the Mandarin -- the you4 marks
        correlatives, similar to the Greek me' construction)

The only plausible explanation I can think of is a topic-comment
construction. But not being a linguist, I could be wrong, of course.


Right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I think I've
forgotten this before.