The interpretation of disjunction in VP ellipsis in Mandarin Chinese

Na Gao, Rosalind Thornton, Peng Zhou, Stephen Crain

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

This study investigated the interpretation assigned to disjunction by Mandarin-speaking children and adults in negative sentences with either overt or covert disjunction. In one condition, both negation and disjunction were phonologically realized in the second conjunct of a coordinate structure. In a second condition, disjunction was elided from the verb phrase. Children and adults differed in scope assignments when both negation and disjunction were phonologically realized. However, negation took scope over disjunction for both groups when disjunction was elided. The findings invite the inference that adults, but not children, analyze disjunction as a Positive Polarity Item in negative sentences, but this polarity sensitivity is cancelled in sentences with verb phrase ellipsis. In this linguistic structure, both groups assign the same interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThree streams of generative language acquisition research
EditorsTania Ionin, Matthew Rispoli
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing
Pages107-124
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9789027262882
ISBN (Print)9789027202246
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Publication series

NameLanguage Acquisition and Language Disorders
Volume63
ISSN (Print)0925-0123
ISSN (Electronic)2213-428X

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Keywords

  • verb phrase ellipsis
  • disjunction
  • scope assignment
  • child Mandarin

Cite this

Gao, N., Thornton, R., Zhou, P., & Crain, S. (2019). The interpretation of disjunction in VP ellipsis in Mandarin Chinese. In T. Ionin, & M. Rispoli (Eds.), Three streams of generative language acquisition research (pp. 107-124). (Language Acquisition and Language Disorders; Vol. 63). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1075/lald.63.06gao