Do Chinese wh-conditionals have relatives in other languages?

Qiong Peng Luo*, Stephen Crain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-798
Number of pages46
JournalLanguage and Linguistics
Volume12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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