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A Judgment Study of Length Patterns in Chinese: Prosody, Last Resort, and Other Factors
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1 The Journal of Chinese Linguistics 0091-3723/A judgment study of length patterns in Chinese Preprint 2017 2015© by The Journal of Chinese Linguistics. All rights reserved. (1103) A JUDGMENT STUDY OF LENGTH PATTERNS IN CHINESE: PROSODY, LAST RESORT, AND OTHER FACTORS San Duanmu Shengli Feng Yan Dong Yingyue Zhang* University of Michigan Chinese University of Hong Kong University of Michigan University of Michigan ABSTRACT In Chinese VO (verb-object) phrases, 2+1 (disyllabic + monosyllabic) is ill formed when other length patterns are available, such as 2+1 *种植蒜 zhongzhi suan vs. the well-formed 2+2 种植大蒜 zhongzhi dasuan ‘plant garlic’. However, 2+1 VO is acceptable when alternative length patterns are unavailable, such as 节约水 jieyue shui ‘save water’ and 喜欢钱 xihuan qian ‘love money’. The conditional acceptance of 2+1 VO is known as the ‘last resort’ effect. However, the predicted judgment difference has not been demonstrated experimentally. In addition, it is unclear whether native speakers find the last resort 2+1 to be as good as 2+2. Moreover, it is unclear what other factors may affect native judgment. To address the questions, we conducted a judgment experiment. Our study shows that (i) 2+2 VO is ranked the best, (ii) 2+1 is ranked the worst when a better form is available, and (iii) the last resort 2+1 is ranked between (i) and (ii). The Acknowledgment We would like to thank helpful comments from an anonymous JCL reviewer and audiences of IACL-22 & NACCL-26 at the University of Maryland for their feedback Authors claim no conflict of interests to publish this paper in Journal of Chinese Linguistics (JCL). Accordingly, JCL is publishing this paper by the author order which was accepted and confirmed in November of 2015. The email requests for changing of the author order in 2016 by authors (see below on email requests) were carefully considered by JCL with its consistent respect to each author’s quality contribution to the paper confirmed upon the paper being accepted. San Duanmu (author for correspondence) is professor at Department of Linguistics, University of Michigan, 440 Lorch Hall, 611 Tappan Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109- 48109-1220, USA; [duanmu@umich.edu]. Yan DONG (2nd author for correspondence) [yandong@umich.edu]. The email requests: On June 30, 2016, JCL was sought by the authors for correspondence, “we would like to switch the order between the first and the third authors,” and on Dec. 19, 2016, “we have added Yan Dong as the second corresponding author.” The changes were requested because of “academic institutions in China, where Yan Dong intends to work.” (12/30.2016) 2 JOURNAL OF CHINESE LINGUISTICS (PREPRINT) The Journal of Chinese Linguistics 0091-3723/A judgment study of length patterns in Chinese Preprint 2017 2015© by The Journal of Chinese Linguistics. All rights reserved. (1103) result (iii) indicates a persistent effect of prosody, even for the last resort 2+1. In addition, we found a collocation effect between V and O. Moreover, we found considerable variation among the subjects, in that some subjects consistently gave higher scores than others, and for some expressions, there is a high degree of disagreement among subjects, which suggests that personal perspectives may play a role. KEYWORDS Word-length preference Prosody Acceptability experiment Elastic words Last resort 1. INTRODUCTION Chinese has many monosyllabic-disyllabic word pairs whose meanings are similar. Some examples are shown in (1), where parentheses indicate a semantically redundant syllable or morpheme. (1) Synonymous word pairs in Chinese Monosyllabic Disyllabic Character Gloss jian (kan) jian (看)见 (look) see ji ji (shu) 技(术) skill (technique) mei mei (tan) 煤(炭) coal (charcoal) suan (da) suan (大)蒜 (big) garlic In ‘look-see’, the meaning of ‘look’ is redundant, since to see something one has to look at it. In ‘skill-technique’, the meaning of ‘technique’ is repetitive. In ‘coal-charcoal’, the meaning of ‘charcoal’ is absent, since ‘coal-charcoal’ only means coal, not coal and charcoal. In ‘big-garlic’, the meaning of ‘big’ is absent, too, since garlic of any size is called ‘big-garlic’. The above property has been known for a long time (Karlgren 1918; Guo 1938; Kennedy 1951; Lü 1963; Feng 1996; Duanmu 2007, 2013; Huang and Duanmu 2013;Dong 2015; Duanmu and...


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