Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 329–366 | Cite as

Predication and information structure in Mandarin Chinese

  • Kilu von PrinceEmail author


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 



first person


second person


third person






change of state




sentence final particle de


experiential aspect


adverbializing particle


attributive linker


the particle ba






perfective aspect




the question particle ma


a question particle other than ma


focus marker


interrogative particle




suffix in Konni






the copula shi


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS)BerlinGermany

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