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Hui-i Kung

Ph.D. Dissertation, 1993


This thesis concerns the correlation between the syntactic positions of NPs in Mandarin Chinese (Mandarin) and their semantic property of specificity. It examines the implementation of Diesing's (1992) theory of indefinites in Mandarin objects, focusing mainly on the Mapping Hypothesis (MH). The result of the investigation indicates that the MH can provide a straightforward account for the placement of objects in this language. Chapter 1 presents an overview of Diesing's analysis and a brief introduction to Mandarin. Starting with single-complement sentences, chapter 2 first spells out the co-occurrence restriction on the object and the duration/frequency phrase (DFP) that, in postverbal positions, a specific object must precede the DFP whereas a nonspecific object must follow the DFP, which is argued to be a VP adjunct. It then shows that this constraint comes as a natural consequence of the MH, which correlates the VP external and internal areas in syntactic structures with a restrictive clause and the nuclear scope in the logical form (lf), on the assumption that the presupposition of existence induced by specific NPs is reflected by their involvement in the restrictive clause at the semantic level. Chapter 3 further explores the case in double complement constructions, where the specificity properties of the objects have been observed to have an effect on their relative order. As a note for further research, chapter 4 touches on the application of Diesing's theory of quantification in Mandarin. Based on the observations that Mandarin indefinites, including WH expressions, exhibit quantificational variability in various contexts and that numerally quantified indefinites are generally incompatible with a non-eventive predicate in sentences without an overt operator, it is suggested that Mandarin indefinites do not have a quantificational force of their own, even though they may be interpreted as variables.

Department of Linguistics University of Wisconsin-Madison

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