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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2009, Vol. 40, No. 3, Pages 487-503
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2009.40.3.487)
© 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Classifiers ≠ Determiners
Article PDF (86.75 KB)
Abstract

Cheng and Sybesma (1999, 2005) argue that classifiers in Chinese are equivalent to a definite article. We argue against this position on empirical grounds, drawing attention to the fact that semantically, syntactically, and functionally, Chinese classifiers are not on the same footing as definite determiners. We also show that compared with Cheng and Sybesma's ClP analysis of Chinese NPs (in particular, Cantonese NPs, on which their proposal crucially relies), a consistent DP analysis is not only fully justified but strongly supported.