Previous studies on Chinese wh-conditionals leave several issues unresolved. These studies fail to capture the definiteness effects in wh-conditionals, they fail to address apparent violations of the novelty condition, and they overlook some genuine readings. We propose to resolve these issues by analyzing wh-conditionals as a special instance of topic-comment structures, with an identity relation between pairs of referring expressions. Chinese wh-conditionals can refer to either a single situation or to multiple situations, leading either to a definite interpretation or to a generic interpretation, respectively. The choice between these interpretations is determined by the context/pragmatics. Typologically, Chinese wh-conditionals are linked to correlatives, both semantically and structurally.
|Number of pages||46|
|Journal||Language and Linguistics|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|