Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 329-366

First online:

Predication and information structure in Mandarin Chinese

  • Kilu von PrinceAffiliated withZentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS) Email author 

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The purpose of this article is to show that long-established insights into the close relation between predicate structure and information structure in Mandarin Chinese can account for a number of concrete observations once they are formalized. In the course of the discussion, I will develop formal definitions of the principle I refer to as the Predicate-Comment Mapping Hypothesis and of the copula and comment marker shi. After discussing how they apply to simple assertive clauses, I will show that these definitions allow us to derive the correct predictions about the differences between three different types of polarity questions—the so-called ma questions, shi-bu-shi questions and A-neg-A questions.


Focus Polarity questions Topic comment Information structure Chinese Contrastivity Copula Clefts