Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 125–155 | Cite as

Indefinite Wh in Mandarin Chinese

  • Yen-Hui Audrey Li

Wh-words in Mandarin Chinse can have a non-interrogative indefinite interpretation as well as an interrogative one. The occurrence of a non-interrogative Wh-element is subject to certain semantic and syntactic constraints: it needs a c-commanding non-interrogative Wh licensor, the set of the licensors being defined in terms of the effect on the truth value of a proposition. The relation between the non-interrogative Wh and its licensor is a binder-variable relation, like the one that exists between an interrogative Wh and a question operator. Appropriate interpretations of given Wh-elements are determined by the property of the binder: if a Wh-element is bound by a question operator, it is an interrogative; if bound by a non-question operator, it is a non-interrogative. The binder-variable relation is subject to a Minimality requirement and displays Blocking and Specificity effects.


Specificity Effect Minimality Requirement Theoretical Language Syntactic Constraint Indefinite Interpretation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yen-Hui Audrey Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Linguistics and Department of East Asian Languages and CulturesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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