Chapter One Introduction
1.1 Research Purpose
Middle construction, a rarely familiar term, is ubiquitous and widespread on the daily basis.For instance, the expressions of The wall paints easily, and “這件事情說起來容易，做起來難”are by no means unfamiliar to us. Expressions like those are labeled as middle sentences orpatient subject construction (徐盛桓, 2002).There is no denying that interpretations on English middle constructions are widelyaccepted. However, as for Chinese middle constructions, some researchers keep a reservedattitude due to the striking syntactic difference between English and Chinese. Nevertheless, inthe light of middle semantics, a plethora of studies have identified, such as NP+V 起來+AP, asthe Chinese middle constructions. Here, “起來” serves as the grammatical marker which issemantically bleached.Well, it is not difficult to recognize the obvious features of those sentences, for instance,the grammatical subjects are the patient arguments without the attendance of doers of actions, orthe agents; middle constructions are generic, revealing the properties of the grammaticalsubjects rather than certain incidents about the subjects; meanwhile, adverbs indicating theproperties of the subjects are usually put at the end of the constructions; besides, grammaticalmarkers like “起來” are the salient feature of Chinese middle constructions. And how shouldone give a clear-cut definition to Chinese middle constructions? On top of that, what are thedriving force and the mechanism for the generation and extension of middle constructions?
1.2 Research Background of Middle Constructions
Middle structures originated from ancient Greek language. Apparently, the verb seems tointegrate slight active features into the passive voice, thus it could be dubbed as middle verb. Inother words, the middle sentences could be put in another way, that is expressions with middlevoice. And it is because of the uniqueness and the distinctive feature in structure that middleconstructions have been pushed into spotlight with an alarming rate and become a burning issuein the area of linguistics.The past decades have witnessed a plethora of researches and studies with respect tomiddle constructions from various perspectives by domestic and abroad linguists and scholars.The researches involve restrictions of the formation of middle constructions; the definingfeatures the constructions; the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic features among NP, VP andAP; the contrastive analyses of middle constructions and ergative structure as well as toughsentences and passive sentences; the interaction between middle constructions and non-agentnouns; the pragmatic inference and deduction and generation of expressions which help shapemiddle constructions; the relationship between semantic quantity characteristics and middlestructure; the contrastive study of English and Chinese middle constructions in the light ofcognitive linguistics; and the probe into the transitivity of middle verbs as well as the diachronicstudy of middle constructions (Ackema & Schoorlemmer (2005), Condoravdi (1989), Fagan(1988), Keyser & Roeper (1984), Steinbach (2002), Simargool (2005), Yoshimura (2004); 曹宏,(2004, 2005), 戴曼純, (2001), 劉辰誕, (2007), 古川裕, (2005), 何文忠, (2007), 徐盛桓,(2002), 張高遠&王克非, (2008)).Those researches, without exception, have entailed the syntax, semantics, traditionalgrammar, generative grammar, functional grammar, cognitive grammar and constructiongrammar. And analysis on the cognitive grammar and construction grammar level has dealt withthe form and the meaning in a whole rather than separate them.
Chapter Two Literature Review
2.1 The Definitions of Middle Constructions
What is the middle construction? Is it the combination of NP, VP and AP? As He Wenzhong(何文忠, 2007: 6) holds, “middle constructions are employed to express the active role apassive participant could play due to its inherent property in bringing about the occurrence ofevent denoted by the verb in a specific property or quality as denoted by the adverb or itsequivalent”. Middle constructions, the unique forms, involve certain unique features: patientargument works as the subject; agent argument is implicit or invisible; generic;non-eventiveness and responsibility of the patient subject; alteration of the verbs’ transitivityand the adverbial effect (曹宏, 2005; 何文忠, 2007; 付巖, 2012; Iwata, 1999). While, there aremainly two types of middle constructions, namely, canonical middle constructions andnon-canonical middle constructions.
2.2 Middle Constructions and Similar Structures
On some occasions, since sharing strikingly similar structures, it is rather difficult todiscern middle constructions from ergative structures, tough sentences and passive sentences.Only by carrying out a thorough exploration and comparison between those pairs, can we getin-depth understanding about middle constructions. And here, the latter sentence is regarded as an ergative structure. On that occasion, it iseasy to point out the difference between the ergative structures and middle constructions. That is,there are no specific selective restrictions on verbs in ergative sentences. And adverbialmodifications or adjuncts are not that necessary as in middle constructions.On the other hand, on some occasions, middle constructions and ergative structures arestaggeringly similar in syntax which are rather difficult for us to tell the one from the other.Some structures are so ambiguous that no one could define them. For instance, Since linguists like Stroik (1995, 1999) and Steinbach (1998) have claimed that middleconstructions are indeed two-participant structures, in which an agent is necessarily implied,though not overtly realized. Ergative sentences, in contrast, don’t imply any agents. Hence, theexistence of the agent or not matters a lot in this sense. Nevertheless, only ergative verbs allowpre-verbal adverbs (何文忠, 2007).
Chapter Three Theoretical Framework........16
3.1 Philosophical Background.......... 16
3.2 Construction Grammar Theory...17
3.3 Categorization and Metaphor Theory........... 18
Chapter Four Research Methodology...........20
4.1 Corpus-based Approach.....20
4.2 ContrastiveAnalysis.......... 21
4.3 Unitary Research Method........... 21
Chapter Five Corpus-based Empirical Study on English and ChineseMiddle Constructions...23
5.1 Data Collection..........23
5.2 Data Classification....24
5.2.1 Classification of English Middle Constructions... 24
5.2.2 Classification of Chinese Middle Constructions...27
5.3 Features between English andChinese Middle Constructions...29
5.4 Constructions with a CognitiveAccount.......... 30
5.5 Constructions in the ConstructionGrammar Model.....40
Chapter Five Corpus-based Empirical Study on English and Chinese MiddleConstructions
5.1 Data Collection
The paper adopts the online Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) andCenter for Chinese Linguistics PKU (CCL PKU) for data collection and analysis. As is wellknown, COCA, a corpus widely used by linguists and researchers, is established by ProfessorMark Davies of Brigham Young University in America, involving more than 450 million wordsfrom various sources, such as spoken words, fictions, magazines, editorials and academic texts.Moreover, based on the interface, other data are readily accessible, containing COHA of past200 years’ American English, TIME Magazine Corpus, BNC of British English and GoogleBooks. With such a large and inclusive corpus, English middle constructions, could be easilyobtained, fully investigated and examined.With respect to CCL PKU, it is created by Center for Chinese Linguistics of PekingUniversity, containing more than 27 million Chinese characters from spoken resources andwritten works. Furthermore, The CCL PKU is an annotated corpus with clear classification ofparts of speech or collocations.Combining the data from COCA, BNC and TIME Magazine Corpus and CCL PKU, thethesis establishes a corpus for the analysis of English and Chinese middle constructions.For both of the two corpora, the data will be selected containing the volitional verbs of(sell)s, (read)s, (write)s and (sleep)s in COCA and the verbs of “賣”, “睡”, “住”and “讀”integrated with semantically bleached markers of “起來/上去/著/得” in CCL PKU. Then, inline with the criteria mentioned in Chapter Four, namely, middle verbs, in simple present tense,are under volitional control of implicit arguments; non-volitional adverbs or other devices areadopted to modify the patient subjects and the modifications are the intrinsic property of thesubjects, English and Chinese middle constructions could be manually obtained..
Middle constructions, as conceived, entail the voice between active and passive. Also,middle constructions are labeled as patient subject structures. However, this is not the wholepicture of the middle constructions. Middle construction, a rarely familiar term, is widespreadon daily basis. Moreover, it is a cross-linguistic phenomenon.By virtue of data collection in COCA and CCL PKU and data classification, the thesispresents various types of English and Chinese middle constructions in accordance withadverbial modification and other alternative devices, ranging from Type A (well/poorly), Type B(smoothly) to Type K (that way) and Type L (quantifier) of the English ones, while from type AP,type VP to type quantifier of the Chinese ones. And Type E (as/like/with) of English middleconstructions accounts for the largest proportion (54.78%) of the chosen data.However, for Chinese middle constructions, type AP covers the largest part (59.21%).Moreover, the various types of the adverbial expressions and other devices in English andChinese middle constructions play fundamental roles in depicting the inherent property of thegrammatical subjects. But, though Chinese middle constructions at issue contain certainsemantic features as English middle constructions, the syntactic features of Chinese middleconstructions are not as rigid as that of English middle constructions.