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Disclaimer: I am assuming that the example sentences listed here have been vetted by a native speaker, but since I'm not totally sure of this, I'll use a leading @ sign to show my uncertainty. If I am inferring or guessing that something is ungrammatical, I will use two asterisks **like this. I will reserve the absence of a mark for full examples and a single asterisk for native speaker judgments that I can cite. The contents of https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/Expressing_%22everything%22_with_%22shenme_dou%22 are under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0. I'm using their examples in this question.

I am calling a verb in a serial verb construction that is not the "head" one a coverb.

I'm not certain of the tentative observations listed in this question. I'm mostly including them as justification for why I'm confused.

I'm also not sure whether "Standard Chinese" is a purely artificial standard or whether it additionally refers to some dialects of Mandarin that are close to the standard. I'm assuming the latter.

Standard Chinese (henceforth SC) has a couple of constructions for expressing universal quantification, some of which are productive 所有 (suǒyǒu), 每 (měi) + classifier, 都 (dōu) before the verb and some others of limited productivity like reduplication (e.g. 天天 (tiāntiān) every day).

The distribution of 什么 and 都, though, seems hard to understand and I'm interested in a theoretical explanation of where they end up and why and what the constraints are. I'm basing these observations on example sentences and learner-oriented language in the wiki article.

  • 什么 seems to occupy the same position before a noun that classifier phrases do.
  • 都, in this usage, seems to appear before the entire predicate complex (i.e. before coverbs as well), rather than appearing before the main verb.
  • 什么...都 appears to scope higher than negation.
  • 什么...都 is capable of yanking core arguments out of their normal position.
  • 什么 can appear after the noun it modifies.

Some of the examples on the Chinese Grammar Wiki show patient arguments appearing before the verb using the 什么...都 construction.

(101)  @ 我们     什么       果汁      都     喝。
         Wǒmen shénme    guǒzhī      dōu    hē.
         1pl     what  fruit-juice   all   drink
         We drink any kind of fruit juice.

I'm pretty sure that moving the patient (什么果汁) ahead of the verb, or failing to move it after the verb if we think of SC as underlyingly SOV, is obligatory.

(102)  ** 我们     都     喝      什么       果汁。
          Wǒmen   dōu    hē    shénme    guǒzhī.
       ** We drink any kind of fruit      juice.

都 appears to precede coverbs, in this example, it appears before the coverb 跟 (gēn) rather than after it. This makes its distribution different than aspect markers and the X不X construction.

(103)   @ 你   不      应该     什么     话     都     跟   他   说。
          Nǐ  bù   yīnggāi   shénme   huà    dōu   gēn   tā  shuō.
          You not   should    what   speech  all   with  3sg speak.
          You shouldn't tell him everything.

什么 can be separated from the noun it modifies if that noun moves to topic position. I'm not sure whether or not this is the only time that the noun modified by 什么 can be moved away from it.

(104)   @ 妈妈     做   的   菜  我    什么  都   喜欢。
          Māma   zuò   de  cài  wǒ  shénme dōu xǐhuan.
          Mother  make DE  food 1sg what   all like.

These observations, taken as a whole, are really confusing. Is there a good theoretical explanation for where 什么 and 都 can appear and what the constraints are?

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"I am calling a verb in a serial verb construction that is not the "head" one a coverb."

I would prefer that you didnt do that, coverbs in Mandarin are words that function similarly to prepositions in English. If by "not the head verb" you are refering to verbs such as 会, 可以, 得, etc. then those should be refered ro as auxiliary verbs.

"I'm also not sure whether "Standard Chinese" is a purely artificial standard or whether it additionally refers to some dialects of Mandarin that are close to the standard. I'm assuming the latter."

https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/pronunciation/Standard_Chinese

"什么 seems to occupy the same position before a noun that classifier phrases do."

This is by no means definitive, but I'd say to treat 什么 as a demonstrative adjective (when you can tell by the context that it isn't functioning as a noun), i.e. 这个东西 (this thing), 那个东西 (that thing), 这些东西 (these [few] things), 那些东西 (those [few] things), 什么东西 (whatever thing(s)).

"都, in this usage, seems to appear before the entire predicate complex (i.e. before coverbs as well), rather than appearing before the main verb."

I believe it'd be better for you to associate 都 with the post noun position rather than the pre verb position, i.e. 我们都 (we all)

"什么...都 appears to scope higher than negation. 什么...都 is capable of yanking core arguments out of their normal position. 什么 can appear after the noun it modifies."

I think youre overanalizing this a bit because i never take any of this into consideration

"我们什么果汁都喝。"

The direct object may come before the verb for emphasis, and typically in sentences where the direct object is definite (known) you'll see it preceded by 把.

Now, if it helps you to understand, let's first replace 什么 with 这些. The sentence then becomes:

我们这些果汁都喝。

Translated literally the sentence becomes, "We these juices all drink". This can be interpreted one of two ways. Either, "Of these juices, we are willing to drink them all," or, "of these juices, we [will drink]/[have drank] them all."

Swapping 什么 back into the sentence shifts the literal translation to, "We whatever juices all drink". This can be interpreted one of two ways. Either, "Whatever juices (regardless of type), we are willing to drink them all," or, "Whatever juices (regardless of type), we [will drink]/[have drank] them all."

"我们都喝什么果汁。"

Shifting the direct object to after the verb is actually what I'd consider the normal position, the other case was just for emphasis. Here the position of 都 has shifteed from the direct object to the subject, the meaning of the sentence has completely changed.

The prior sentence carried the meaning of, "We will drink all types of juice," whereas this sentence translates as, "We all will drink whatever type of juice." The main difference being that this new sentence implies a single, unknown type of juice being offered and that all of us are going to be drinking it.

"你不应该什么话都跟他说。"

This is another case of the direct object being placed before the verb for emphasis. The thing being emphasized here is the content being said. If some other demonstrative were used isntead of 什么 then the meaning would be different, they'd instead be telling you specifically what words not to tell him. But since 什么 is used then the exact words being discussed are unknown, ergo, "whatever words." And the rest of the sentence carries the meaning that you shouldnt speak with him about it all.

"妈妈做的菜我什么都喜欢。"

This is a topic-comment structure; "妈妈做的菜" is the topic, namely, "Food that mother makes." The comment then is "我什么都喜欢" where the direct object is again placed before the verb for emphasis. The meaning then is, "Whatever food my mom makes, I like it all."

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    我们把什么果汁都喝 seems completely ungrammatical to me. For one thing, 什么…都 and 把 constructions are mutually exclusive since topicalised objects (including in 把 constructions) are inherently definite and 什么 introduces inherently indefinite NPs. For another (and this one applies to 我们把这些果汁都喝 as well), 把 constructions cannot be used with bare verbs; they require an extra element, like a complement, reduplication, perfective 了, indirect object, tentative 一下, etc. Grammatical would be 我们把这些果汁都喝完了. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 20 '20 at 19:37
  • Also, the 把 rewrite isn’t necessary at all: 我们什么果汁都喝 is perfectly fine and natural-sounding to me, meaning ‘we’ll drink any kind of juice’. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 20 '20 at 19:42
  • Firstly, I said directly in mt answer that 把 wasn't necessary. I added that because OP seemed to have some misguided understanding about the SVO vs SOV nature of the language. Secondly, I don't agree that 把 is invalid. you're claiming that 把 topicalizes the 什么...都 construct, how can that be the case when "我们" precedes it as the topic? 把 functions as the verb "to take/grasp", so it was my intention to morph the structure into a separate verb phrase. Though I did just look it up and it seems to be the case that 把 shuold only be used on definite objects like you said. – 小奥利奥 Oct 20 '20 at 20:41
  • perhaps that is the reason it doesn't show up in the sentence – 小奥利奥 Oct 20 '20 at 20:42
  • if I weren't st work I would edit the answer to clarify but as it stands I think its use should still be brought to the attention of OP, perhaps mentioning why it cannot be used together with the 什么...都 construction and explaining how the sentence reads the same with or without it – 小奥利奥 Oct 20 '20 at 20:47

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