MoL-2023-29: Wh-indefinites in Mandarin: The case of shenme (什么)

MoL-2023-29: Cao, Siyuan (2023) Wh-indefinites in Mandarin: The case of shenme (什么). [Report]

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This thesis aims to investigate the semantics of wh-indefinites in Mandarin by focusing on a particular Mandarin wh-indefinite shenme (什么). Wh-indefinites have both indefinite and wh-interrogative uses. In its indefinite use, shenme behaves like an epistemic indefinite triggering an obligatory ignorance inference when unembedded. Additionally, shenme displays a form distinction with its two forms – bare and non-bare shenme – having slightly different distributions with respect to the uses that epistemic indefinites may possibly license. Using the team semantics framework, I propose that shenme is a strict existential with the conditions of variation and maximality. By these assumptions, I manage to account for the distribution and meaning of shenme in its epistemic indefinite use, in particular explaining the different behaviors of bare and non-bare shenme under negation. To arrive at a uniform account of the dual use of shenme as either an epistemic indefinite or an interrogative word, I develop an account of questions in the team semantics framework. The outcome reveals that the licensing of constituent questions also depends on the maximality condition of shenme.

Item Type: Report
Report Nr: MoL-2023-29
Series Name: Master of Logic Thesis (MoL) Series
Year: 2023
Subjects: Language
Depositing User: Dr Marco Vervoort
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2023 13:30
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2023 13:30

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