‘Modality’ is a very important concept not only in contemporary linguistics but also in modern Chinese linguistics. On the basis of the Minimalist Program (MP), this paper analyzed the derivation and distribution of Chinese modality expression ‘henneng(很能)’ using the Cartographic Approach, Light verb theory, etc.
In particular, the generation of two positions of ‘henneng(很能)’ was addressed intensively in this paper. It is assumed that the one of the ‘henneng (很能)’ is positioned at the Left periphery, and the other ‘henneng(很能)’ is positioned at between the bellow of TP and above of VP. The former ‘henneng (很能)’ expresses [+ epistemic] modality; The latter ‘henneng(很能)’ expresses [+ deontic] modality.
We have also figured out that the derivation process of the two ‘henneng(很能)’ and their positions can be displayed as follows.
[+ epistemic] modality:
...[ModPEPI DPi/j/*k M(很能)[TP DPi T[vP DPi v[VP [DPj/V/DPk]]]]]
[+ deontic] modality:
...[TP DPi T[DegP DPi/*j Deg(很)[ModPDEO DPi M(能)[vP DPi v[VP [V DPj]]]]]]