Modal wh-indefinites in Mandarin

  • Mingming Liu
  • Yu'an Yang


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.
How to Cite
Liu, M., & Yang, Y. (2021). Modal wh-indefinites in Mandarin. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 25, 581-599.