Modal wh-indefinites in Mandarin

  • Mingming Liu
  • Yu'an Yang

Abstract

Mandarin wh-indefinites have been long been analyzed as Negative Polarity Items (Huang 1982; Cheng 1991; Li 1992; Lin 1998; Xie 2007) that cannot occur in positive sentences. In this paper, we challenge this view by presenting naturally-occurring examples in various positive contexts. We find that in these positive contexts, wh-indefinites are usuallyassociated with an “ignorance” or “indifference” inference, similar to modal indefinites like Spanish alg´un and German irgendein (Alonso-Ovalle andM´endez-Benito 2010, Aloni and Port 2010). We propose to analyze Mandarin wh-indefinites in the alternatives-&-exhaustificaiton framework (contra Giannakidou 2018), where they trigger individual alternatives (contra Chierchia and Liao 2015), and the various inferences arise through the interaction between exhaustificationand modals.
Published
2021-09-17
How to Cite
Liu, M., & Yang, Y. (2021). Modal wh-indefinites in Mandarin. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 25, 581-599. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2021.v25i0.955