Syntax-based phonological asymmetries: The case of adjective reduplication in Mandarin Chinese

Sang Im Lee Kim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Prosodic Morphology, reduplication frequently targets phonological constituents such as syllables, feet, or prosodic words. In Mandarin Chinese, however, adjective reduplication targets syntactic units whose size and position depend on the morphosyntactic structure of the base. Specifically, subordinate compounds of form AB are reduplicated as ABAB, whereas coordinate compounds of the same form are reduplicated as AABB. Moreover, two reduplicated forms behave differently in terms of phonological patterning such as more neutralization in AABB and ABAB being transparent. In this article, I show that the phonological asymmetry between two reduplicated forms is a consequence of the distinct morphosyntax of the base and its mapping onto different prosodic structures at the interface. While reduplication making reference to syntax has been reported in the literature (e.g. Ghomeshi et al., 2004; Kirchner, 2010), the Mandarin data is particularly interesting as syntactic reduplication further leads to interesting phonological asymmetries, calling for an elaborated theory of the interface between morphosyntax and phonology. I discuss implications of the current data for previous models of the syntax-phonology interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Coordinate compounds
  • Distributed Morphology
  • Mandarin
  • Prosodic constraints
  • Reduplication
  • Syntax-phonology interface

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Syntax-based phonological asymmetries: The case of adjective reduplication in Mandarin Chinese'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this