The question t hat motivates this thesis is how to account for t he semi-free word order of Chinese. This is addressed in terms of the licensing mechanisms that are operative in Chinese. The theoretical context of t his investigation is the current emphasis on the use of functional categories t o explain syntactic phenomena .
The pas t few years have seen an explosion i n t he range of functional categories assumed to be available and relevant in the construction of a syntactic analysis. The proliferation of functional categories brings with it a change in the emphasis of grammar, whereby the burden of syntactic explanation has shifted from the substantive elements to the functional elements. This has had far·reaching consequences for theories of para-metric variation. If the surface properties of language are determined by the functional categories, then differences in surface properties must be determined by differences in the functional categories. It follows from this that the locus of parametric variation will be the lexical properties of the functional categories involved. We therefore expect all languages to display equivalent. complexity in the functional lexicon. The research on functional categories, however , has concentrated largely on inflectional morphemes that are argued to trigger head movement and hence affect surface order . What. of a language like Chinese with no agreement or inflection?! Either Chinese is evidence against the universality of the lexical functional distinction or the functional categories of Chinese are morphologically different. The hypothesis is that the lexical-functional distinction is still relevant. The question then is what are the functional categories of Chinese, and what is their relationship to the licensing of the satellites of a lexical head.
The functional categories of Chinese fall into operator-type categories such as Det, and Neg, and closed class words such as functional prepositions. Examples of both types are investigated here. An analysis of negation is given as evidence for the operator type of functional projection. The thesis investigates a range of preposition-like items that are argued to fall under the closed class type of functional category. These include coverb constructions, verb reduplication and t.he ba construction. Prepositions are commonly analysed as Case assigners with the underlying assumption that their distribution is determined in part at least by Case requirements. Abstract Case assignment is shown to be unsuccessful in predicting; distribution of satellites in Chinese. An alternative analysis is given for prepositions and coverbs in Chinese in which they are functional heads that inter act with t.he thematic grid of the head noun or head verb in whose domain they are generated . The analysis adopts the concept of thematic mediation developed in Adger and Rhys forthcoming and shows how it explains the distribution and behaviour of prepositions in both the nominal and verbal projection. Returning to the original question of the syntactic mechanisms t hat are operative in deriving the word order of Chinese, the hypothesis investigated in this thesis is thus that surface order in Chinese is a function of these functional prepositions.