Adverbs of quantification in Mandarin Chinese

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Adverbs of quantification in Mandarin Chinese


Author: Sun, Jiaming
Title: Adverbs of quantification in Mandarin Chinese
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2016
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Chinese language -- Adverb.
Chinese language -- Semantics.
Department: Dept. of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: 143 pages
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: This dissertation conducts a semantic study to three pairs of quantifying adverbs, or adverbs of quantification, in Mandarin Chinese, including Yizhi and Zong(shi), Changchang and Wangwang, and Ouer and Youshi. These adverbs are previously categorized as temporal adverbs or frequency adverbs. Based on data from CCL and BCC, we have found that not all of the readings of these adverbs are correlated with time or frequency and some of them should be considered as the atemporal reading (de Swart 1993). Various solutions have been proposed in order to give a unified account to the temporal and atemporal readings of these adverbs. The main problem of those proposals is that little attention has been paid to the internal variations among these adverbs. We propose that quantifying adverbs in Mandarin Chinese could be further sub-categorized into two types according to their essential meanings. The first type is temporal or frequency adverbs, including Yizhi, Changchang and Ouer. They are used to quantify the event in the sentence and denote a quantity of time length or frequency. The other type is probability adverbs, including Zong(shi), Wangwang and Youshi. The main function of this type is to give a probability judgment. As for Zong(shi) and Wangwang, they denote that the relevant probability has surpassed a baseline probability. The baseline can be either objective or subjective (determined by the speaker). With regard to Youshi, the baseline is close to 0. It means that the relevant probability should be at least above 0, thus giving rise to an existential reading.
In addition to the semantic distinctions of these two types, syntactic distributions are also discussed. It is proved that frequency adverbs and probability adverbs occupy different positions in the clause, thus forming another distinction - objective adverbs and subjective adverbs. Several criteria are developed to analyze the syntactic behaviors, including their linear order with negation, modals, other adverbs or adjuncts, as well as other distributions and relative order of co-occurrence. It is shown that subjective adverbs can only precede negation, modals, other adverbs or adjuncts, while objective adverbs are relatively free in such distributions. Therefore, we propose that subjective adverbs actually take scope over IP and represent speaker's commitment to the truth of the proposition, and thus should be categorized as epistemic adverbs or speaker-oriented adverbs (Ernst 2007, 2009), whereas objective adverbs should be regarded as modifiers or adjuncts of VP with the function of restricting the predicate. The data show that subjective adverbs are always incompatible with non-veridical contexts. Based on Giannakidou's (non)veridical theory, it is argued that the incompatibility is attributed to the semantic clash of subjective adverbs and non-veridicality.

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