Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 241–264 | Cite as

Conditions on Chinese A-not-A questions

  • Thomas Ernst


The main goal of this paper is to account for the ungrammaticality of adjuncts likeyiding ‘definitely’ orluan ‘chaotically’ in Chinese A-not-A questions. This restriction can be accounted for via the Isomorphic Principle, by which S-structure scope relationships must be preserved at LF. In A-not-A questions the question operator [+Qu] raises at LF; any adjunct which c-commands [+Qu] at SS must therefore also raise to c-command it at LF, in order to respect the Isomorphic Principle. Butyielding andluan, like most adjuncts, cannot modify [+Qu], so such sentences are semantically anomalous.

Certain other adjuncts, such as time and locative expressions, do not show this effect, though they also cannot modify [+Qu]. It is argued that adjuncts of this class are argument-like and thus that their trace may count for scope at LF, following a version of Aoun and Li's (1989) Scope Principle making reference to chains. Thus they are not forced to modify the question operator and may co-occur with A-not-A questions.

To the extent that this analysis is successful, it supports the validity of the Isomorphic Principle and the Scope Principle as important mechanisms for mapping S-structure to LF.


Locative Expression Theoretical Language Scope Relationship Scope Principle Isomorphic Principle 
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 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Ernst
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of DelawareNewark

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