PF Merger would Do, too: A Reply to Zhang (1997)


  • David Ta-Chun SHEN Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University



Mandarin, third tone sandhi, PF merger


The analysis for the phenomenon that prepositions may or may not undergo the third tone sandhi in Mandarin in Zhang (1997) is reviewed. She considers that this phenomenon is short of sound coverage and couches her analysis in the framework of Optimality Theory (OT). However, upon scrutiny, Zhang’s analysis invites unnecessary questions. The postulation of two “constituent strength” constraints is with no foundation. It is difficult to grab the idea behind the constituent-strength concept even till now. Related to the concept, the non-specification of a prepositional phrase is not clear. Instead, the syntactic feature manifestation could mark a preposition’s uniqueness. In addition, the misuse of the Generalized Alignment and stipulations toward the evaluations in OT are spotted, too. My synthetic approach, based on the extant and developing knowledge about constituency, PF merger, and Shih’s (1997) foot formation, shows that for this phenomenon, no new device is needed.


Download data is not yet available.


Abney, S. P. (1987). The English noun phrase in its sentential aspect. Doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Baker, M., & Hale, K. (1990). Relativized Minimality and pronoun incorporation. Linguistic Inquiry, 21(2), 289-297.

Bošković, Ž. (2001). On the nature of the syntax-phonology interface: Cliticization and related phenomena. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Elsevier.

Chen, M. Y. [陳淵泉] (2000). Tone sandhi: Patterns across Chinese dialects. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Cinque, G. (1993). A null theory of phrase and compound stress. Linguistic Inquiry, 24(2), 239-297.

Grimshaw, J. (2005). Extended Projection. In J. Grimshaw, Words and structure (pp. 1-73). Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

Halle, M., & Marantz, A. (1993). Distributed Morphology and the pieces of inflection. In K. Hale & S. J. Keyser (Eds.), The view from building 20: Essays in linguistics in honor of Sylvain Bromberger (pp. 111-176). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Kager, R. (1999). Optimality Theory. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Lasnik, H., & Lohndal, T. (2010). Government-binding/principles and parameters theory. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 1(1), 40-50.

McCarthy, J. J., & Prince, A. (1993). Generalized Alignment. In G. Gooij & J. van Marle (Eds.), Yearbook of morphology 1993 (pp. 79-153). Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Scheer, T. (2008). Spell out your sister!. In N. Abner & J. Bishop (Eds.), Proceedings of the 27th west coast conference on formal linguistics (pp. 379-387). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Shih, C. [石基琳] (1997). Mandarin third tone sandhi and prosodic structure. In J. Wang [王嘉齡] & N. Smith (Eds.), Studies in Chinese phonology (pp. 81-123). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.

Van der Hulst, H. (2004). Phonological dialectics: A short history of generative phonology. In P. van Sterkenburg (Ed.), Linguistics today: Facing a greater challenge (pp. 217-242). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Vaux, B. (2008). Why the phonological component must be serial and rule-based. In B. Vaux and A. Nevins (Eds.), Rules, constraints, and phonological phenomena (pp. 20-60). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Wee, L.-H. [黃良喜] (2008). Opacity from constituency. Language and Linguistics, 9(1), 127-160.

Xu, D. [許德寶] (1992). Mandarin tone sandhi and the interface study between phonology and syntax. Doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Xu, D. B. [許德寶] (1999). A syntactic account for the inseparability of the verb and the classifier in the structure V+C+N in tone sandhi. Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association, 34(3), 77-90.

Zhang, N. [張寧] (1997). The avoidance of the third tone sandhi in Mandarin Chinese. Journal of East Asian Linguistics, 6(4), 293-338.

Zwicky, A. M., & Pullum, G. K. (1983). Cliticization vs. inflection: English n’t. Language, 59(3), 502-513.




How to Cite

SHEN, D. T.-C. (2011). PF Merger would Do, too: A Reply to Zhang (1997). Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 1(2), 9–24.



Research articles