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Yes/no questions and A-not-A questions in Chinese revisited *.


In this article, the morphological and syntactic peculiarities of Chinese A-not-A questions are revisited. With reference to the observation that Standard Mandarin shares significant typological features with prototypical SOV languages, Chinese is treated as an underlyingly verb-final language. Based on this heuristic principle, all subtypes of A-not-A questions are uniformly derived by means of one simple raising rule that operates within the sentence constituent V'. In contrast to the prevailing trend, it is further argued that the question operator contained in A-not-A sentences cannot be raised to "Comp." In consequence, A-not-A questions are "typed" in the head position of a sentence-internal functional phrase that I call Force2 Phrase (F2P). The existence of a head position F[2.sup.0] is supported by the fact that it can be occupied by certain overt question operators occurring both in several Chinese dialects and in Standard Mandarin. The analysis suggested precludes the interpretation of the lexical item ne as a "typing particle" in the sense of Cheng (1991). Hence ne is treated as a predicate-final modal particle.

1. Introduction

1.1. Sentential force

Natural languages make use of various universal strategies in expressing "sentential force" in the sense of Chierchia and McConnell-Ginet (1990).

In the simplest case, sentential force, that is, the semantic correlate of "sentence type," is made manifest by means of intonation contour and word order. This case is realized, for example, in all Germanic languages, where a combination of rising final intonation and verb-subject word order is operative in yes/no questions. Furthermore, sentential force can be denoted by lexical means. An example would be the role of enclitic li in interrogative sentences of Russian and other Slavic languages, not to mention the role of clausal typing particles in numerous East and South East Asian languages. Finally, sentential force can be expressed morphologically. This is the case in Chinese A-not-A questions, as we will see in this article.

In view of the syntactic, morphological, lexical, and prosodic resources of languages, it is not surprising that we can find important differences between various languages in the system of sentence types, especially as far as the specificity of functions within a particular sentence type is concerned. (1)

1.2. Yes/no questions and A-not-A questions in Chinese

Following Zhu (1990b: 96) and Yue-Hashimoto (1993), I will distinguish between yes/no questions and A-not-A questions in the subsequent text.

Yes/no questions are interrogatives that can be answered by "correct," such as shi, dui, or "incorrect," such as bu shi, bu dui. In Mandarin Chinese, yes/no questions are prototypically "typed" (Cheng 1991) by the question particle ma, such as in (1):
(1) Q: Ni qu ma? A: Shi. / Bu shi.
 you go QP yes no
 Q: 'Will you go there?' A: 'Yes.' / 'No.'

The A-not-A pattern is a special interrogative type found not only in Chinese but also in several continental southeast Asian languages. (2)

Contrary to yes/no questions, A-not-A questions must be answered by "A" (an affirmative predicate) or "not-A" (a negated predicate). (3) The element "A" as a constitutive element of the A-not-A pattern is thought of as a label for several predicative categories, such as verb, adjective, modal, and others.

The A-not-A pattern includes several subtypes. The main subtypes to which I will confine myself in the subsequent text are V-neg-V/Adj-neg-Adj, as in (2a) and (2b); V-neg-VO, as in (3); VO-neg-V, as in (4); V(O)-neg, as in (5); and M(odal)-neg-M(odal)V(O), as in (6). (4)
(2) a. Q: Ni qu-bu-qu? A: Qu. / Bu qu. (V-neg-V)
 you go-not-go go not go
 Q: 'Will you go there?' A: 'Yes.' / 'No.'

 b. Q: Zhe ben shu hao-bu-hao? A: Hao. / Bu hao.
 this CL book good-not-good good not good
 A: 'Is this book good?' A: 'Yes.' / 'No.'

(3) Q: Ni kan-bu-kan dianying? A: Kan. / Bu kan.
 you watch-not-watch movie watch not watch
 Q: 'Will you watch the movie?' A: 'Yes.' / 'No.'

(4) Q: Ni kan dianying bu-kan? A: Kan. / Bu kan.
 you watch movie not-watch watch not watch
 Q: 'Will you watch the movie?' A: 'Yes.' / 'No.'

(5) Q: Ni kan dianyiang -bu? A: Kan. / Bu kan. (VO-neg)
 you watch movie not watch not watch
 Q: 'Will you watch the movie?' A: 'Yes.' / 'No.'

(6) Q: Ni gan-bu-gan sha ji? A: Gan. / Bu gan.
 you dare-not-dare kill chicken dare not dare
 (M-neg-M VO)
 Q: 'Do you dare kill a chicken?' A: 'Yes.' / 'No.'

Yes/no questions and A-not-A questions can be conceived as a request that the person you are addressing tell you whether the proposition you have put to him is true or not. (5)

1.3. Basic categories of a discourse-based model of the Chinese sentence

The basic categories that I will use in this article are F(orce)1, I(nfl(ection)), F(orce)2, Neg(ation), and V (for "verb/predicative adjective"). These categories occur in the following relative order with respect to each other:
(7) F1' > IP > F2P > NegP > V'
 with '>' for "preceding + dominating."

As for the different projections of the categories involved, I will follow Fukui and Speas (1986: 128) who postulate that functional categories project to X", while all projections of lexical categories are X'. This idea implies that X" structures projected by functional categories are limited to a single specifier position and a single complement position, whereas the X' projections of lexical categories are indefinitely iterable, limited only by the projection principle and other independent principles of licensing. (6) The functional projection F1' is suggested in accordance with Whitman (1997: 4), who claims that right-headed X'-structures necessarily lack a Spec position, because Spec-head agreement requires adjacency between the head element and its specifier.

1.4. Organization of the article

The present article, which centers on A-not-A questions, is organized as follows.

Sections 2 and 3 lay out the specific background on which my subsequent claims will be based. Starting from some significant typological features, Chinese is treated as an underlyingly verb-final language (SOV). With the help of this heuristic principle, all subtypes of A-not-A questions exemplified by (2) through (6) above are uniformly derived by means of one simple raising rule that operates within the sentence constituent V'. This novel conception elaborated in Section 4 conflicts with the influential approach of Huang (1991). In Section 5, the question of sentential force in yes/no questions and A-not-A questions is discussed. It is claimed that whereas yes/no questions ending with the question particle ma are "typed" in F[1.sup.0], A-not-A questions are "typed" in the sentence-internal position F[2.sup.0]. In contrast to the prevailing trend, it is further argued that the question operator in A-not-A sentences cannot be raised to "Comp." This implies that F1' is not projected in A-not-A questions. Interestingly enough, the head position F[2.sup.0] can be occupied by certain overt question operators. This fact that underpins the existence of a functional F2P is depicted in Section 6. Section 7 briefly summarizes the dialectal distribution of different A-not-A subtypes. In Section 8, the claim is made that the lexical item ne is not a "typing particle" in the sense of Cheng (1991), but rather a pure modal particle located within the predicate.

2. SOV features of the Chinese sentence

Liu (2000) claims that Chinese has never been a typical SVO language, though SVO has been the basic order in Chinese clauses since its earliest record. As elaborated by Liu, Pre-Qin Chinese contained remains of an earlier SOV word order, manifesting themselves by the preverbal position occupied by interrogative pronouns and pronouns in negative sentences. With reference to the fact that Chinese is closely related to the Tibeto-Burman languages, which essentially are SOV languages, Liu speculates that the common protolanguage of Chinese and today's Tibeto-Burman languages may have been an SOV language. (7)

Likewise, Hawkins (1983) characterizes Chinese as a language with SOV/SVO features. Kroch (2001: 706) states that languages like Chinese or Yiddish "show an apparent mix of headedness at the clausal level, so that there is even controversy over whether they are VO or OV."

Referring to the 45 universal tendencies correlated with SOV, SVO, and VSO orders ascertained by Greenberg (1966) on the basis of a sample of 30 languages (which, interestingly enough, does not contain Chinese), Tai (1985 [1973]: 345f.) claims that Chinese is an SOV language. He especially stresses the point that the following word order features can be generalized under one single general syntactic principle, the principle that SOV languages tend to place restricting elements before restricted elements: a) relative clause before noun, b) adjective before noun, c) genitive before the governing noun, d) adverbial before the main verb, e) adverb before adjective, f) proper noun before common noun. Tai notes that those and other grammatical features of Chinese consistently appear in rigid SOV languages such as Japanese and Turkish.

In addition to the SOV features of Chinese listed so far, there are further crucial features shared by Chinese and prototypical SOV languages. Two of them are reflected in the use of sentence-final yes-no question particles and the fact that wh-phrases remain in situ. Carl Lee Baker (1970: 206ff.) was the first to observe the relationship between these two facts. Based on Greenberg's (1966) data, Baker hypothesized: first, no language can have a rule which moves the questioned constituent to clause-initial position, but regularly positions all morphemes for yes-no questions in clause-final position. Second, no language can have a rule which moves a questioned constituent to sentence-final position, even if the Q morpheme occurs there.

Contrary to Travis (1984), Ernst (1988), and Li (1990), who, more or less explicitly, deny the existence of postpositions in Chinese, Liu (2000) claims that the fact that postpositions play an important role in the grammar of Modern Chinese is underestimated by many researchers. Liu gives a detailed picture of the role of different types of postpositions in the syntactic structure of Chinese sentences. As he elaborated, Chinese postpositions function as "relators," thereby realizing the "relator principle" investigated by Dik (1997). According to Dik, a "relator" links two constituents to each other, having its preferred position between the two relata. (8) In Modern Chinese, relators mainly appear either on the border of an attribute (the dependent) and a noun (the center), or on the border of a preverbal adjunct (the dependent) and a verb (the center).

To recapitulate this subsection, the strong tendency to place restricting elements before restricted elements, the use of sentence-final particles, the fact that wh-phrases remain in situ, and the role of postpositions are the most striking SOV features of Mandarin Chinese.

3. D- and S-structure of V' in the Chinese sentence

As we have learned in Section 2, Chinese exhibits major typological features of rigid SOV languages such as Japanese, Korean, and Turkish. I consider this to be a warrant for treating Chinese as an underlyingly verb-final language, being perfectly aware of the fact that at the level of S-structure, the unmarked word order is SVO. (9)

Given this, the abstract D-structure of a predicate phrase headed by a transitive verb like kan 'watch' is (8):

(8) [v' SU [v' DO [V.sup.0]]]

So far, I am in agreement with Koopman (1984) and Li (1990) who propose a head-final structure of VP as well. Yet whereas Koopman and Li achieve the S-structural word order by NP movement, that is, by moving the object from the left side of the verb to its right side, (10) I suppose that in (8) the verb must be raised into the head position of a higher V'-shell in the sense of Larson (1988, 1990), yielding the S-structure (9):

(9) [IP S[U.sub.1] [v' [t.sub.1] [v' [[v.sup.0] [V.sup.0.sub.2]] [v' DO [t.sub.2]]]]]

This derivation involves the idea that [theta]-role assignment and syntactic licensing of verb arguments (11) are two independent syntactic procedures, which can take place at different levels of the derivation of sentences and which can be opposed with respect to their direction. That is to say, along the lines of the syntactic model outlined by (8) and (9), the verb is enabled to assign [theta]-roles from the right to the left at the level of D-structure, while syntactic licensing goes from the left to the right and takes place at S-structure. (12) For the DO to be licensed, the verbal element [V.sup.0] has to move to the lowest V'-shell head position c-commanding the DO.

The stem of Chinese verbs can commonly be followed by certain (semi-)suffixes and other elements such as nonreferential objects, all of them being constitutive components of the head constituent [V.sup.0].

If the verb cannot or shall not be raised into higher V'-shells for structural or pragmatic reasons, then the DO must be licensed by the "dummy verb" ba, which occurs in the same position to which the full verb moves in (9). This "dummy verb" serving as a "substitute licenser" can assume the A-not-A form ba-mei-ba in connection with a perfective full verb. (13)

As for the subject in (8) and (9), no syntactic licenser is required, just as the subject in nominative-accusative languages does not need any authority assigning it the nominative. (14)

4. V' in A-not-A questions

On the basis of the assumptions made in the above section, the internal structure of the V' constituent in A-not-A questions shall be investigated in the following.

4.1. A proposal for a unified derivation of A-not-A questions

Let's come back to the examples (3) through (6) introduced in Section 1.

Firstly, as for A-not-A questions of the subtypes V-neg-VO, exemplified by (3), and VO-neg-V, exemplified by (4), I propose that in both of them a "morphological word," (15) namely kan-bu-kan, consisting of the verb stem kan 'watch' and the semi-suffixes -bu-kan, is directly inserted in the sentence at D-structure. (16) In connection with a supposed D-structural OV order, this involves the predicates of (3) and (4) having the same D-structure (cf. (3a) with (4a)). For purposes of licensing the DO, the verb in (3) and (4) has to be raised to a higher V'-shell, as outlined in Section 3. With respect to this procedure, my basic idea is that semi-suffixes can be "taken along" or "left behind" in the process of deriving the S-structure of sentences. Whereas in (3b) the semi-suffixes -bu-kan have been "taken along" with the stem, they have been "left behind" in (4b):
(3) Ni kan-bu-kan dianying?
 you watch-not-watch movie
 'Will you watch the movie?'

 D-structure of V':
 a. [v' dianying kan-bu-kan]
 movie watch-not-watch

 S-structure of V':
 b. [v' kan-bu-[kan.sub.1] [v' dianying [t.sub.1]]]
 watch-not-watch movie

(4) Ni kan dianying bu-kan?
 you watch movie not-watch
 'Will you watch the movie?'

 D-structure of V':
 a. [v' dianying kan-bu-kan]
 movie watch-not-watch

 S-structure of V':
 b. [v' [kan.sub.1] [v' dianying [t.sub.1]-bu-kan]]
 watch movie not-watch

Secondly, A-not-A questions of the type VO-neg, such as example (5), are derived in the same manner:
(5) Ni kan dianyiang bu?
 you watch movie not
 'Will you watch the movie?'

 D-structure of V':
 a. [v' dianying kan-bu]
 movie watch-not

 S-structure of V':
 b. [v' [kan.sub.1] [v' dianying [t.sub.1]-bu]]
 watch movie not

Note that in VO-neg questions like (5) the semi-suffix -bu must be obligatorily "left behind." This does not alter the fact, however, that it is fully incorporated into the morphological word form V-neg (kan-bu).

Now, let's consider example (6) realizing the pattern M-neg-M V(O):
(6) Ni gan-bu-gan sha ji?
 you dare-not-dare kill chicken
 'Do you dare kill a chicken?'

Modals select a V'-constituent as their complement. In A-not-A questions, they assume the complex morphological word form M-neg-M. Moving into a higher V'-shell by S-structure, modals obligatorily "take along" their semi-suffixes -neg-M:
(6) Ni gan-bu-gan sha ji?
 you dare-not-dare kill chicken
 'Do you dare kill a chicken?'

 D-structure of V':
 a. [v'[v' sha ji] [[v.sup.0] gan-bu-gan]]
 kill chicken dare-not-dare

 S-structure of V':
 b. [v' gan-bu-[gan.sub.1] [v' sha ji] [[v.sup.0] [t.sub.1]]]
 dare-not-dare kill chicken

Finally, Yue-Hashimoto (1993: 44) mentions an abbreviated A-not-A form, namely VV(O), which occurs in certain Chinese dialects and Yi languages of the Tibeto-Burman group. According to her, this form is either the result of contraction of Neg with V, or of the ellipsis of Neg.

The pattern VV(O) can be derived along the lines of our approach without difficulty, in that VV is treated as a complex morphological word form which moves to a higher V'-shell.

The grammatical units kan-bu-kan in (3) and (4) and kan-bu in (5) are morphological words insofar as they cannot be freely interrupted by any lexical material, except for an object. That the object in (4) and (5) gets into a position in between the stem of the verb kan and its suffix(es) is a result of the fact that the verb stem moves into a higher V'-shell for purposes of argument licensing, as depicted in Section 3. In other words, the object is NOT "inserted" in a position between the verb stem and its suffix(es) at D-structure.

4.2. Other proposals

I would like to stress that a uniform derivation of the patterns V-neg-VO, VO-neg-V, VO-neg, and M-neg-M VO will be impossible if Chinese is considered as a pure SVO language, as favored by Huang (1982, 1991), Mulder and Sybesma (1992), Dai (1993), McCawley (1994), Ernst (1994), N. Zhang (1997), Sybesma (1999), Schaffar and Chen (2001), Hsieh (2001), and others.

Huang (1991), for example, is forced to give different accounts for the patterns V-neg-VO and VO-neg-V. As for V-neg-VO, he proposes a morphological word formation mechanism involving a rule of verb copying followed by a rule inserting the negative morpheme bu 'not.' This mechanism fails to work, however, in the case of VO-neg-V because of the intervening object which blocks a morphological derivation in Huang's system. Correspondingly, Huang derives the VO-neg-V pattern not by a morphological but by a syntactic rule. More precisely, he derives VO-neg-V from the syntactic pattern VO-neg-VO by "anaphoric deletion."

Such an analysis directly leads to the conclusion that the VO-neg-V pattern is "more disjunctive" and "less grammaticalized" than the V-neg-VO pattern. (17) Taking Huang's approach as their starting point, most of the authors concerned with A-not-A questions restrict themselves to investigating the V-neg-VO pattern. Our conception is at variance with this prevailing trend.

Superficially, it seems that our analysis coincides with that of Huang at least with respect to the V-neg-VO pattern. But on closer inspection, this turns out not to be the case. In the theoretical framework of Huang (1991), a [+Q] feature located in [Infl.sup.0] and the naked stem of the verb are separately inserted in the sentence. Not until the S-structure is derived does the [+Q] feature trigger the copying of the verb stem and the insertion of a negation:
(10) [IP [+Q] ... [VP V ...]] [right arrow]

 [IP [+Q] ... [VP V-not-V ...]]

In our approach, however, a full morphological word form carrying a question feature [+Q] is inserted. (18)

Hsieh (2001) claims to provide a unified analysis for A-not-A questions. In truth, she suggests different analyses for V-neg-VO questions on the one hand and VO-neg-V questions and VO-neg questions on the other. For the former pattern, Hsieh proposes an analysis in which the V-neg-V form is considered to be a morphologically complex word carrying a question feature. For VO-neg-V and VO-neg, however, she suggests a syntactic treatment which comes close to Huang's (1991) proposal for VO-neg-V questions: Hsieh derives them from a coordinate structure with a positive and a negative conjunct. While the negative conjunct undergoes anaphoric ellipsis in the case of VO-neg-V, it undergoes VP ellipsis in the case of VO-neg, thereby leaving the negative marker behind in the second conjunct. (19) This bipartite analysis with a morphological approach for V-neg-VO and a syntactic approach for VO-neg-V and VO-neg is forced by Hsieh's tacit assumption that Chinese is an SVO language.

By contrast, in our system, all subtypes of A-not-A predicates are uniformly morphologically derived, and no deletions are needed.

4.3. Additional evidence for our proposal

In Section 3 of this article, I have hypothesized that, in the default case, the DO of the verb is syntactically licensed by moving the verb to the lowest V'-shell head position c-commanding the DO. In Section 4.1, we have applied this principle to A-not-A predicates, postulating that the stem of the verb can "take along" or "leave behind" its suffix(es) in deriving the S-structure of a sentence.

In this section, I will show that this kind of verb raising is obligatory in V-neg-VO predicates, while it can be dispensed with in ma-questions and questions with ba-mei-ba.

An important piece of evidence for our proposal is the fact that the A-not-A form of the full verb is incompatible with the so-called ba-construction. Compare (11a), (11b), (12a) and (12b) with (11c) and (12c):
(11) a. Ni ba shu nazou-le ma?
 you BA book take away-ASP QP
 'Have you taken away the book?'

 b. Ni ba-mei-ba shu nazou?
 you BA-not have-BA book take away
 'Have you taken away the book?'

 c. *Ni ba shu nazou- meiyou- nazou?
 you BA book take away- not have- take away

(12) a. Ni ba bilu sheng-le huo ma?
 you BA fireplace start-ASP fire QP
 'Did you fire up the fireplace?'
 (Mei 1980: 25) (20)

 b. Ni ba-mei-ba bilu sheng-le hou?
 you BA-not have-BA fireplace start-ASP fire
 'Did you fire up the fireplace?'

 c. *Ni ba bilu sheng- meiyou- sheng huo?
 you BA fireplace start- not have- start fire

Obviously, the raising of the A-not-A verb form (with or without its suffixes) is blocked by the "dummy verb" ba in the (c) sentences, with the result that (11c) and (12c) are ruled out.

In contrast to (11c) and (12c), the raising of the simple verb is not required in (11a), (11b) and (12a), (12b). Whereas in (11a) and (12a) the DO is syntactically licensed by the "dummy verb" ba, it is licensed by the A-not-A form of ba, ba-mei-ba, in (11b) and (12b). (21) Note that ba and ba-mei-ba, respectively, occupy exactly the same head position of a higher V'-shell into which the full verb has to be raised in the default case outlined under (9).

4.4. A-not-A predicates: common properties and residual asymmetries

It is a fact that the V(O)-neg pattern is much more deeply rooted in the Chinese language than the patterns V-neg-V(O) and VO-neg-V. Whereas the former pattern, V(O)-neg, can be traced back to Classical Chinese (Pre-Qin Dynasty to Han Dynasty), as noted by Cheng et al. (1996: 51), it took until the early Middle Ages (Sui and Tang Dynasties) for the latter two patterns to come into use (cf. Ohta 1987: 378). This means that VO-neg is an independent pattern which cannot be derived from the VO-neg-V pattern by ellipsis.

In view of the different sources of the two basic types of A-not-A questions, it is not surprising that there are some residual asymmetries between them.

Firstly, in Standard Mandarin, the choice of negation, including that in V-neg-VO and VO-neg-V, depends on the aspect of the verb. This involves, among others, the rule that an unmarked verb carrying the imperfect aspect is negated by bu, (22) whereas verbs carrying the perfective aspect are negated by mei. (23)

As for the VO-neg pattern, there are, however, cases in which this agreement requirement is clearly violated, as noted by Shao (1996:111f.). In the indirect question (13), for example, the negation bu is combined with a verb marked by the perfective aspect suffix le:
(13) Wo qu chouchou sun-shaoye shu beiwan-le
 I go see:see grandson young:master book recite-finish-ASP
 'I will go and see whether the young master has finished
 reciting his book.'

In (14), bu is combined with the verb you 'have,' a verb which in Standard Mandarin can only be negated by 'mei(you)':
(14) Ni ziji you ge jueding bu?
 you self have CL decision not
 'Have you made up your mind?'

Secondly, the V-neg-V pattern (with or without a direct object) is incompatible with a second negation in the clause it appears. This seems, however, not to apply to the V(O)-neg pattern, as the following example shows:
(15) Ni bu hui jiao bu?
 you not able irrigate not
 'You don't know how to water, do you?'

Shao (1996: 115) concludes that data like (13) through (15) occurring in several northern dialects of Chinese are residual forms coming from Classical and Medieval Chinese. (24)

Thirdly, further residual asymmetries are mentioned by Cheng et al. (1996, see Section 1.1). These concern, among others, the use of the element yijing 'already,' which is compatible with "negative particle questions" (NPQ) (i.e., in our terms, the VO-neg pattern) but not with V-neg-VO and VO-neg-V. For the NPQ pattern, Cheng et al. give the following example:
(16) ta yijing kan-wan shu meiyou?
 he already read-finish book not have
 'Did he already finish reading the book?'
 (Cheng et al. 1996: 43)

In addition, NPQs like (16) are nicely compatible with the use of the "dummy verb" ba, as opposed to questions containing a V-neg-VO predicate, as we have seen in Section 4.3 in connection with (11c) and (12c):
(17) Ta yijing ba shu kanwan meiyou?
 he already BA book read-finish not have
 'Did he already finish reading the book?'

As (17) illustrates, V-raising can be dispensed with in NPQs on condition that their predicate is perfective.

By contrast, the imperfective structure VO-bu is trivially not compatible with the perfective aspect-like element yijing 'already':
(18) *Ni yijing kan dianyian bu?
 you already watch movie not

Fourthly, the semi-suffix -bu cannot be "taken along" with the verb stem in cases like (5).

Contrary to the VO-neg pattern, the V-neg-VO pattern is based on suffix raising, as (3b) illustrates.

In the above, we have learned that the different historical sources of V(O)-neg and V-neg-V (with or without an object) bring about some marginal differences with respect to their syntactic behavior.

In our theoretical context, however, all A-not-A variants share three decisive properties which justify treating them together.

Firstly, my proposal that all A-not-A subpatterns should be recognized as having the same grammatical status under a synchronic view is supported by the fact that all of them obey island constraints, as stated by Huang (1991: 313f.). In contrast, disjunctive patterns with the conjunction haishi 'or' do not exhibit island effects. That is to say, as opposed to the V-neg-VO, VO-neg-V and VO-not patterns, disjunctive patterns with haishi 'or' can appear in subject clauses and relative clauses. (25)

Secondly, A-not-A questions are obligatorily associated with "information focus," a type of focus which is often called presentational focus, wide focus, projective focus, maximally projected focus, novelty focus, or VP-focus. (26)

There is general agreement that information focus has a "strictly incremental effect on the discourse" (Drubig 1998: 7) insofar as it specifies "new information." Along the lines of Kiss (1998), this type of focus conveys "nonpresupposed" information marked by one or more pitch accents. In terms of Drubig (1998: 1), information focus is "licensed by integration into wider focus domains," which means that the focus feature is projected from a focus exponent. Based on this, Drubig and Schaffar (2001: 2) claim that licensing by embedding is a default mechanism which does not entail any further expenditure of encoding. According to Lopez and Villalba (2000: 5), noncontrastive focus is always unmarked, that is, no syntactic operations or morphological markers are associated with it. Seen in this light, assertive negation and elements like only or even in English do not necessarily serve as "licensers" of information focus, as originally claimed by Drubig (1994: 22f.). Rather, they act as additional indicators of it. (27)

Thirdly, the scope of the question operator in A-not-A sentences is limited to the predicate, as I will postulate in the next section.

5. Force in A-not-A questions

In this article, one of my central tenets is that yes/no questions with ma on the one hand, and A-not-A questions on the other, are typed in two distinct positions.

5.1. Force1 vs. Force2

Yes/no questions with the question particle ma like
(1) Ni qu ma?
 you go QP
 'Will you go there?'

are typed in Force[1.sup.0] (F[1.sup.0]). Although located at the rightmost periphery of the sentence, F[1.sup.0] is a hierarchical position, from which ma c-commands the rest of the sentence:


Differently from ma questions, the typing procedure of A-not-A questions happens in a clause-internal position, namely in the head position of a functional phrase, which I will call 'Force2P' (F2P). This means that simple A-not-A questions like (19) and (20) have logical forms like (19') and (20'), respectively:
(19) Ni qu-bu-qu?
 you go-not-go
 'Will you go there?'


(20) Ni qu-bu?
 you go-not
 'Will you go there?'


That is to say, the morphological words qu-bu-qu 'go-not-go' and qu-bu 'go-not' bearing a question feature [+Q] (28) are base-generated in the sentence position [V.sup.0]. At the level of LF, however, [+Q] is "attracted" by a correlating weak question feature, <Q>, located in F[2.sup.0], for purposes of feature checking. (29) As a result, [+Q] is "sister adjoined" (30) to <Q>. In terms of semantics, the result of this procedure is that the [+Q] feature turns the predicate represented by V' into a function. (31)

Provided this is the case, my contention is that it is the (Q) feature checked by [+Q] that contributes interrogative force to the whole sentence in A-not-A questions. In other words, I claim that in A-not-A questions the syntactic procedure of "clausal typing" (Cheng 1991) takes place within the extended predicate, comprising F2P and V'. (32)

Moreover, I contend that A-not-A questions do not contain a Force1 Phrase (F1'), since one clause cannot be typed twice. Therefore, F1' and F2P are in complementary distribution.

5.2. An argument against the hypothesis of question operator raising to "Comp" in A-not-A questions

Huang (1982: 532), Li (1992: 137f.), and Ernst (1994: 258) suggest that in A-not-A questions "the A-not-A operator" (Huang)/"the A-not-A form" (Li)/"the verb bearing [+Qu]" (Ernst)33 undergoes LF-raising to "Comp."

Similarly, Cheng et al. (1996: 56ff.) postulate that the negation element in NPQs must be raised to [C.sup.0] in Mandarin Chinese which displays agreement between the aspect of the verb and the choice of the negation element, while it is base-generated in [C.sup.0] in nonagreement dialects of Chinese.

Hsieh (2001: 135) claims that both A-not-A questions and NPQs "contain operators that are generated under the Spec of QP, and that raise to the appropriate Comp for marking the scope."

In contradistinction to this, our contention about the nonexistence of any kind of "Comp" or "[C.sup.0]" in all subtypes of A-not-A questions precludes any operator raising to this position by definition.

Our view can be verified by the fact that indefinite objects with a specific reading cannot appear in A-not-A questions, as observed by B. Zhang (1999: 296f.).

Look at the following two question sentences used in a situation in which a young man arrives on the scene when a couple with whom he is friends seem to be buying a big and obviously expensive new car. In this situation, where the new car is visibly present, any use of an A-not-A question form will produce an ungrammatical sentence:
(21) a. *Nimen mai-bu-mai yi-liang xin che? (V-neg-VO)
 you buy-not-buy one-CL new car

 b. *Nimen mai yi-liang xin che bu-mai? (VO-neg-V)
 you buy one-CL new car not-buy

Our explanation of the ungrammaticality of (21a) and (21b) is that the indefinite object DP yi-liang xin che 'a new car' by virtue of its presuppositional reading (34) undergoes the rule of LF quantifier raising (QR) across F[2.sup.0], where the question operator [+Q] has checked a correlating <Q>-feature, thereby turning the predicate represented by V' into a function. As a consequence, the quantifier takes scope over the question operator. Yet, precisely this is not allowed for semantic reasons, since a polarity question operator must have scope over the quantifier at any syntactic level. In other words, a presuppositional quantifier like that in (21a) and (21b) cannot quantify into a polarity question. (35)

In contrast to (21a) and (21b), the requirement that a polarity question operator must have scope over the quantifier at any syntactic level is fulfilled in (22):
(22) Nimen mai yi-liang xin che ma? (ma-question)
 you buy one-CL new car QP
 'Are you buying a new car?'

Interestingly enough, an indefinite object with a nonspecific reading, which does not undergo quantifier raising for independent reasons, is compatible with the A-not-A form of the verb: (36)
(23) a. Ni yihou hai hui-bu-hui mai yi-liang xin che?
 you later still possible-not-possible buy one-CL new car
 'Is it possible that you will buy a new car some day?'
 b. Ruguo you yi-tian nide che huai le, ni hai
 if have one-day your car break down PART you still
 mai-bu-mai yi-liang xin che? (V-neg-VO)
 buy-not-buy one-CL new car
 'If your car breaks down some day, will you buy a new car

In sum, the fact that (21a) and (21b) are ungrammatical while (22), (23a) and (23b) are grammatically correct corroborates our view that the scope of the A-not-A question operator is restricted to the predicate of the sentence at any syntactic level. If the question operator in A-not-A sentences underwent LF-raising to "Comp" as claimed by Huang and others, (21a) and (21b) should be just as grammatical as (22). (37)

6. Yes/no questions with an overt question operator in F[2.sup.0]

So far we have claimed that A-not-A predicates contain an abstract [+Q] feature that checks a correlating abstract (Q) feature in F[2.sup.0] by the LF operation of attraction.

In this section, we will consider several overt question operators which are of theoretical interest insofar as they back up our hypothesis concerning the existence of a functional F2P. These operators with interrogative force appear both in some Chinese dialects and in Mandarin Chinese.

6.1. Dialectal question operators

The so-called a-operator is used in Shanghainese and Suzhounese (both belonging to the Wu dialect group):
(24) a. Nong ming zao a dao Shanghai qu?
 you tomorrow morning PART to Shanghai go
 'Do you go to Shanghai tomorrow morning?'
 (Xu & Shao 1998: 89, Shanghainese)

 b. [IP [nong.sub.1] ming zao [F2P [F[2.sup.0] [a] <Q>]
 [v' [t.sub.1] [v' dao you tomorrow morning PART to
 Shanghai qu]]]]?
 Shanghai go

(25) a. Li a kan xi?
 he PART watch theater
 'Does he go to the theater?'
 (Yuan 1993: 103, Suzhounese)

 b. [IP [li.sub.1] [F2P [F[2.sup.0] [a] <Q>]
 he PART
 [v' [t.sub.1] [v' kan xi]]]]?
 watch theater

Strongly speaking, "a VP" questions are "A-not-A" questions, as the answer in the following example shows:
(26) Q: Nai a xiaode? A: Xiaode ge.
 you PART know know PART
 Q: 'Do you know it?' A: 'Yes.'
 (Zhu 1985: 11, Suzhounese)

The interrogative force in (24) through (26) is exclusively conveyed by the question operator a which we claim to be located in the head position of F2P. In F[2.sup.0], it is "sister-adjoined" to an abstract <Q> feature by the operation of merge (which takes place at D-structure). Correspondingly, the predicates of (24) and (25), dao Shanghai qu 'go to Shanghai' and kan xi 'go to the theater,' respectively, can neither assume an A-not-A form nor do they contain a question feature. The scope of the overt question operator a is restricted to the predicate.

The same should apply to the kam operator, which is used in the Southern Min dialect spoken on the mainland in the province of Fujian and in Taiwan:
(27) a. Li kam u chi:?
 you PART have money
 'Do you have money?'
 (Huang 1991: 325)

 b. [IP [li.sub.1] [F2P [F[2.sup.0] [kam] <Q>]
 you PART
 [v' [t.sub.1] [v' u chi:]]]]?
 have money

6.2. The "assertive" question operator shi-bu-shi in Mandarin Chinese

In the standard variant of Mandarin Chinese, there is a type of shi-bu-shi which is not derived from the familiar "it-cleft" marker shi. Rather, it is derived from a shi which is used to "assert the proposition of a sentence," as expressed by Yeh (1995: 43).

My claim is that the A-not-A form of this assertion marker is a pure question operator. (38) Appearing in F[2.sup.0], "assertive" shi-bu-shi takes scope over the sentence constituent V', which may be extended by various VP modifiers. (39)

First, consider examples like the following, in which the "assertive" question operator shi-bu-shi and the full verb are adjacent to each other:
(28) a. Ta zuotian shi-bu-shi lai-guo?
 he yesterday AM-not-AM come-ASP
 'Did he drop in yesterday?'
 (Shao 1996: 132)
 b. [IP [ta.sub.1] zuotian [F2P [F[2.sup.0] [shi-bu-shi] <Q>]
 he yesterday AM-not-AM
 [v' [t.sub.1] [v' lai-guo]]]]?
(29) a. Ni shi-bu-shi xihuan zhe ben shu?
 you AM-not-AM like this CL book
 'Do you like this book?'
 b. [IP [ni.sub.1] [F2P [F[2.sup.0] [shi-bu-shi] <Q>] [v'
 you AM-not-AM
 [t.sub.1] [v' [xihuan.sub.2] [v' zhe ben
 like this CL
 shu [t.sub.2]]]]]]?
(30) a. Ni shi-bu-shi gaosu-le ta zhe ge xiaoxi?
 you AM-not-AM tell-ASP he this CL news
 'Did you tell him this piece of news?'
 b. [Ni.sub.1] [F2P [F[2.sup.0] [shi-bu-shi] <Q>] [v' [t.sub.1]
 you AM-not-AM
 [v' gaosu-[le.sub.2] [v' ta [v' [[v.sup.0] [t'.sub.2] [v,
 tell-ASP he
 zhe ge xiaoxi [t.sub.2]]]]]]]]? (40)
 this CL news

As Yeh observes, the negative counterpart of the "it-cleft" marker shi is bu-shi, while the negative counterpart of the assertion marker shi is bu or mei(you), depending on the aspect of the verb. Given this, the fact that the shi-bu-shi in (28) through (30) represents the A-not-A form of the assertion marker shi is borne out by the fact that the correct negative response to them is meiyou for (28) and (30), while it is bu for (29). Based on this, we can say that the predicates of our examples convey information focus.

In the following examples, "assertive" shi-bu-shi is adjacent not to the full verb of the sentence but to a "dummy verb," such as ba or gei.
(31) a. Zhang San shi-bu-shi ba zhe ben shu kanwan-le?
 Zhang San AM-not-AM BA this CL book finish-ASP
 'Has Zhang San finished this book?'
 b. Zhang [San.sub.i] [F2P [F[2.sup.0] [shi-bu-shi] <Q>] [v'
 Zhang San AM-not-AM
 [t.sub.1] [v' ba [v, zhe ben shu kanwan-le]]]]?
 BA this CL book finish-ASP

Drubig and Schaffar (2001: 4) consider the so-called ba-construction as a mechanism to remove defocused arguments from the focus domain. Given this pragmatic approach, the shi-bu-shi operator in (31) is obligatorily "assertive."

In the same manner, the shi-bu-shi operator is "assertive" in the following example, where the "dummy verb" gei serves as a syntactic licenser of the indirect object:
(32) a. Ni shi-bu-shi gei Li Si ji-le yi-ben shu?
 you AM-not-AM to Li Si send-ASP one-CL book
 'Have you sent a book to Li Si?'
 b. [Ni.sub.1] [F2P [F[2.sup.0] [shi-bu-shi] <Q>] [v' [t.sub.1]
 you AM-not-AM
 [v' gei [v' Li Si [v' ji-[le.sub.2] [v' yi-ben shu
 to Li Si send-ASP one-CL book

According to Yeh's negation test, (31) and (32) contain the "assertive" question operator shi-bu-shi, for in both cases the correct negative response is meiyou.

Now consider some examples in which the "assertive" shi-bu-shi operator is adjacent to a VP modifier:
(33) a. Ni shi-bu-shi zai Beijing mai-le bu-shao dongxi?
 you AM-not-AM in Beijing buy-ASP not-little thing
 'Did you buy a lot of things in Beijing?'
 b. Ni [F2P [F[2.sup.0] shi-bu-shi] [v' zai Beijing [v'
 you AM-not-AM in Beijing
 mai-[le.sub.1] [v' bu-shao dongxi [t.sub.1]]]]]?
 buy-ASP not-little thing

The ability of the "assertive" question operator shi-bu-shi to appear in the above structure can be accounted for with the help of Speas (1990: 49ff.), who rejects the hypothesis of Lebeaux (1988) that D-structure includes heads and arguments and nothing else. That is to say, she rejects the allegation that all adjuncts are added to the phrase marker AFTER D-structure. To give evidence for her position, Speas shows by means of English examples, which hold true for Chinese as well, that benefactive, locative, and instrumental PPs "do not show anti-reconstruction effects."

As for benefactives, compare the strong crossover cases (34a) and (34b), which convincingly prove that these phrases must be present at D-structure:
(34) a. * For [Mary.sub.1]'s brother, [she.sub.1] was given some old
 b. * Weile Zhang [San.sub.1] de anquan, [ta.sub.1] duobi-zai
 for Zhang San PART safety he hide-in
 * 'For Zhang [San.sub.1]'s safety, [he.sub.1] was hiding in
 the town.'

In contrast to (34), weak crossover configurations like in (35) are well-formed:
(35) Zhang [San.sub.1] shi-bu-shi weile [ta.sub.1]-de anquan
 Zhang San AM-not-AM for his safety
 duobi-zai cheng-li?
 hide-in town-inside
 'Does Zhang San hide in the town for his safety?'

Given Speas' theory, it seems justified to regard locatives and benefactives as a part of the extended predicate.

Chinese behaves like English and other languages in that "focus has a systematic phonological manifestation in the form of (sentence/pitch) accent." (41) This implies that the shi-bu-shi operator in (33) and (35) is "assertive" on the condition that the VP modifier following it does not carry the pitch accent of the sentence. If the modifier does carry the pitch accent, the shi-bu-shi operator preceding it cannot be "assertive," and the predicate lying in the scope of this operator cannot convey information focus. Instead, the VP modifier conveys identificational focus in the sense of Kiss (1998).

The predicate in the scope of "assertive" shi-bu-shi may contain a complement clause. In that case, the "assertive" question operator occupies the F[2.sup.0] position of the matrix clause:
(36) Zhang San shi-bu-shi yunxu Li Si he pijiu?
 Zhang San AM-not-AM allow Li Si drink beer
 'Has Zhang San allowed Li Si to drink beer?'

The information focus conveyed by (36) may comprise either the matrix predicate representing a control structure in which the object of the matrix verb controls the PRO subject of the complement clause, as in (36'), or merely the predicate of the embedded clause, as in (36"): (42)
(36') Zhang San [F2P shi-bu-shi [v' F[yunxu Li [Si.sub.i]
 Zhang San AM-not-AM allow Li Si
 [[PRO.sub.i] he pijiu]]]]
 drink beer
(36") Zhang San [F2P shi-bu-shi [v' yunxu Li Si
 Zhang San AM-not-AM allow Li Si
 [[PRO.sub.i] F[he pijiu]]]]
 drink beer

The shi-bu-shi operator is obligatorily "assertive" if it is followed by a modal, a negation, or a negation combined with a modal, as observed by Liu et al. (1983: 491ff.):
(37) a. Dasuan shi-bu-shi neng sha xijun?
 garlic AM-not-AM able kill germ
 'Is garlic able to kill germs?'
 b. Ni shi-bu-shi bu tongyi zhe zhong yijian?
 you AM-not-AM not agree this kind opinion
 'Do you not agree with this kind of opinion?'
 c. Zhe zhong shi, shi-bu-shi bu gai zuo?
 this kind matter AM-not-AM not ought do
 'As for this kind of matters, should one do them?'

The bu element within the shi-bu-shi operator is not aspect-sensitive. More precisely, "assertive" shi-bu-shi is compatible with perfective predicates, as the example (33) given under Section 6.2.3 shows. In addition, the "assertive" question operator shi-bu-shi is consistent with a sentence negation, as (37b) and (37c) show. It turns out that "assertive" shi-bu-shi is a pure question operator whose internal bu element does not negate the predicate of the sentence. (43)

Our claim that the shi-bu-shi described in this section is an "assertive" question operator followed by information focus can be confirmed by a simple test like the following. Questions containing this type of shi-bu-shi, such as (38a), allow continuations like (38b):
(38) a. Q: Zai zuotian-de hui-shang, ni shi-bu-shi
 at yesterday-PART meeting-above you AM-not-AM
 tongyi-le ta-de yijian?
 agree-ASP his opinion
 'Did you agree with his opinion at yesterday's meeting?'
 b. A: Dui, erqie ni-de yijian wo qishi ye tongyi-le.
 Correct, and your opinion I basically also agree-ASP
 'Correct, and as for your opinion, I basically also agreed.'

In (38), 'his opinion' in (38a) is not exhaustively used. This fact is relevant in that exhaustivity is a significant feature of identificational focus.

To summarize briefly, the occurrence of overt clause-internal question operators backs up our claim about the existence of a functional F2P. Furthermore, it bears out our assumption that there is an abstract <Q> feature in F[2.sup.0] which has to be checked. In all cases with an overt question operator, this checking procedure takes place by merging the question operator with <Q> at D-structure.

7. The dialectal distribution of A-not-A questions

Considered from a pragmatic viewpoint, the A-not-A variants V-neg-VO, VO-neg-V, and V(O)-neg are not pure duplicates of each other. Instead, they represent different regional variants.

As depicted by Zhu (1990a: 211ff.), the pattern V-neg-VO is used in southern dialects (such as Yue, Min, and Kejia), in Southwestern Mandarin (Hubei and Sichuan), and in Standard Mandarin. The pattern VO-neg-V, however, prevails in the northern language area (Hebei, Shanxi, the northern part of Henan; Shaanxi, Gansu, and Qinghai).

According to Yue-Hashimoto (1993: 44ff.), the VO-neg pattern is found in several central and northern dialects, southwestern and southeastern Mandarin dialects, in Gan, Xiang, Kejia (Hakka), Yue, and Min. (44)

Arguing that all types of yes/no questions are structurally derived from the basic pattern of juxtaposing the positive and the negative verb phrases, Cheung (2001: 191) states that "while early Cantonese displayed an exclusive use of forward deletion to generate VP-mh and VP + mh-V, it was during the 1930s that the process began to reverse its direction, yielding V-mh-VP."

In short, in contrast to the pattern V-neg-VO, which is used in Standard Mandarin, the patterns VO-neg-V and VO-neg have a regional slant.

8. Is ne a "typing particle"?

It is well known that A-not-A questions can optionally end with the particle ne, as in the example below:
(39) Zhe yang shuo dui-bu-dui (ne)?
 this way say correct-bu-correct PART
 'Is it correct to put it this way?'

At first glance, this particle looks like a question operator, especially since it may occur in wh-questions as well: (45)
(40) Ta jiujing shuo-le xie shenme (ne)?
 he actually say-ASP some what PART
 'What did he actually say?'

Cheng (1991: 25f.) claims that ne in wh-questions is a "typing particle" generated in [C.sup.0]. Moreover, she posits that in languages with in-situ wh-words, a wh-question always has a typing particle in the [C.sup.0] position to type the sentence as a wh-question, keeping in mind that particles in some languages can be null. Likewise, Cheng and Rooryck (2000: 2) assume that insertion of "the wh-particle (i.e. an overt or null Q-morpheme)" checks the Q-feature in [C.sup.0], allowing the wh-words to stay in situ. Cheng et al. (1996: 44) stress the point that "A-not-A and VP-not-V questions can co-occur with the question particle ne."

I would like to bring forward three arguments against this view:

Firstly, the particle ne can appear not only in interrogative sentences, but also in declarative and exclamative sentences:

[[v.sup.0] ** ne in declaratives, marking actual progress/continuation or continuation of a state
(41) a. Bie jinqu, ta zheng gen Lao Qin shuhua ne.
 don't go-in he just with Lao Qin talk PART
 'Don't go in, he is just having a talk with Lao Qin.'
 (Hou 1998: 441)
 b. Xia yu ne.
 fall rain PART
 'It is still raining.'
 (Zhu 1982: 209)
(42) Wu-li kai-zhe hui ne.
 room-inside hold-ASP meeting PART
 'They are just holding a meeting in the room.'
 (Zhu 1982: 210)
(43) a. Ta zai chuang-shang tang-zhe ne.
 he in bed-above lie-ASP PART
 'He is lying in the bed.'
 (Zhu 1982: 210)
 b. Men kai-zhe ne.
 door open-ASP PART
 'The door is open.'
 (Zhu 1982: 209)

[[v.sup.0] ** ne in exclamatives
(44) a. Ta hui kai feiji ne!
 he able fly aircraft PART
 'But, look, he even knows how to fly a plane!'
 (Zhu 1982: 213; Visan 2001)
 b. Weidao hao-de hen ne!
 flavour good-PART very PART
 'Nonsense, your food is excellent!'
 (Zhu 1982: 213; Visan 2001)
 c. Tiananmen guangchang ke da ne!
 Tiananmen square really huge PART
 'How huge the Tiananmen Square is!'
 (Zhu 1982: 213; Visan 2001)
 d. Zhe zhong shi, wo cai lande guan ne!
 this CL matter I really lazy care-for PART
 'As for this matter, I am really lazy about caring for it!'
 (Hou 1998: 441)

Secondly, unlike the question particle ma, which can only appear in matrix clauses, ne can appear in embedded clauses:
(45) a. Ni juede [shui qu heshi ne]?
 you think who go appropriate PART
 'Who do you think should go there?'
 (Zhu 1982: 207)
 b. Ni mei kanjian [wo shou-li zuo-zhe huo
 you not-have see I hand-inside do-ASP manual work
 ne] ma?
 'Didn't you see that I am doing manual work?'
 (Ohta 1987: 349)

In (45b), ne is followed by the question particle ma!

Thirdly, ne and ma behave differently with respect to their scope. Ernst (1994) correctly observes that the A-not-A pattern is incompatible with some "core adjuncts," such as epistemic elements and causal adjuncts, as the bad structures (46a) and (47a) show. Contrary to this, ma-questions are allowed to contain such adjuncts, as (46b) and (47b) illustrate:
(46) a. * Ta yiding qu-bu-qu?
 he definitely go-not-go
 b. Ta yiding qu ma?
 he definitely go QP
 'Is he definitely going?'
(47) a. * Ni yinwei ni-de pengyou de yaoqiu qu-bu-qu?
 you because your friend PART demand go-not-go
 b. Ni yinwei ni-de pengyou de yaoqiu qu ma?
 you because your friend PART demand go QP
 'Do you go there because of your friend's demand?'

My point here is that if ne were a question operator located in "Comp" or F[1.sup.0], it should do nicely to add a sentence-final ne to the bad structures (46a) and (47a) to turn them into sentences that are just as grammatical as (46b) and (47b), which end with the question operator ma. Yet, this is not the case: (46a') and (47a'), both ending with ne, are just as ungrammatical as (46a) and (47a):
(46) a'. * Ta yiding qu-bu-qu ne?
 he definitely go-not-go PART
(47) a'. * Ni yinwei ni-de pengyou de yaoqiu qu-bu-qu ne?
 you because your friend PART demand go-not-go PART

In view of data like those enumerated above, the majority of grammarians regard the lexical item ne as a "modal particle." This applies, for example, to Hu (1981a, 1981b), Shao (1989), Ye (1994), Shi and Zhang (1995), and N. Zhang (1997: 104), who all explicitly or implicitly deny that ne conveys any interrogative information either in wh-questions or in A-not-A questions.

Alleton (1981) claims that ne makes questions sound "less harsh." Similarly, Ye (1994) attributes a "moderating" function to ne. In contrast, Shi and Zhang (1995) and N. Zhang (1997: 104) hold the opinion that ne is rather an "emphasis marker" than an interrogative complementizer. Shao (1989) posits that ne has a "reminding" function.

Chu (1998: 185), starting from the position that the interrogative force of questions does not come from their ending with ne but from other sources, brings the "inter-clausal link" function of ne into focus. Similarly, Shi (1997: 134) summarizes that ne "is an ordinary lexical item and serves to emphasize the factuality of its preceding sentence." This generalization seems to be the most plausible one.

G. v. d. Gabelentz (1960 [1881]: 316) and Ohta (1987: 331ff.) distinguish between sentence-final ("outer") and predicate-final ("inner") particles. (46) Adopting this division, we regard ne as a predicate-final modal particle, which has nothing to do with the typing process of A-not-A questions.

Basically, the analysis of A-not-A questions that we have suggested in this article presupposes that ne cannot function as a question operator, because, in our system, A-not-A questions are typed by a [+Q] feature carried by the morphological verb form, with [+Q] undergoing LF-raising to F[2.sup.0].


* The present paper has been written within the context of the DFG project "Syntax of C-Domain" launched in 2000 at the Zentrum fur Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Typologie and Universalienforschung (ZAS), Berlin, in co-operation with the research group "Sprachtheoretische Grundlagen der Kognitionswissenschaft" at the Universitat Leipzig. The participants in the ongoing project are Andre Meinunger, Kerstin Schwabe, and the author of this paper. I am very grateful to Anita Steube and Bernhard Drubig for many years of support, which have greatly stimulated this project. In addition, I am indebted to Marie-Claude Paris, Xu Liejiong, Liu Danqing, Ewald Lang, and Manfred Krifka, who provided enlightening and thoughtful comments on previous versions of this article. Many thanks go to the anonymous reviewer, whose criticism helped shape this article. Last but not least, I owe a special debt to Paul David Doherty for his careful revision of this text. Correspondence address: Borsigstr. 32 10115 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:

(1.) Cf. Sadock and Zwicky (1985: 160).

(2.) Cf. Thompson (1998: 327). The notion of A-not-A question was coined by Chao Yuen Ren (1947), as pointed out by Yue-Hashimoto (1993).

(3.) Based on this, Zhu (1985: 10f.) regards A-not-A questions (fanfu wenju) as a special type of disjunctive questions.

(4.) The syntactic construction VO-neg-VO is not very popular among the dialects of Chinese (cf. Yue-Hashimoto 1993: 44). The same applies to M VO-neg-M VO. These two constructions, which are on the borderline between disjunctive questions with haishi 'or' and A-not-A questions, cannot be considered in this article.

(5.) Cf. Sadock and Zwicky (1985: 155). Following Groenendijk and Stokhof (1997: 1072), I start from the position that a question requires a change in information about the world, but not a change in the world itself. Given this, asking a question is a basic speech act. But see Vanderveken's (1990) typology, according to which asking a question belongs to the basic speech act type of directives: 'I (hereby) ask you to answer (the question) Q.' As for details about the different "pragmatic" and "semantic" approaches to the interrogatives, see Groenendijk and Stokhof (1997).

(6.) This approach has been called the "Relativized X'-Theory." As for the development of this theory, see also Fukui (1991), Fukui and Saito (1992), Saito and Fukui (1998), and Fukui (2001).

(7.) Cf. Liu (2000: 53).

(8.) As for Dik's relator principles, cf. also Siewierska (1988, 1991).

(9.) Mulder and Sybesma (1992) claim that they have evidence that Chinese is a VO language at D-structure. In fact, the notion of D-structure is a construct. Hence, the syntactic structures assumed at this abstract level can hardly be "right" or "wrong." Rather, they can serve as a heuristic means. In this sense, the question is which assumptions can explain more phenomena of Chinese grammar than others. Therefore, with respect to the question of whether Chinese at D-structure should be treated as a VO language or as an OV language, neither the "small clause" analysis suggested by Mulder and Sybesma for certain sentences, nor the analysis of A-not-A questions, which I will propose in Section 4, can have the status of "evidence." In truth, both approaches are no more than hypotheses.

(10.) As for that procedure, cf. Goodall (1990: 246), who points out that such argument movement from one side of the head to the other leads to theory-internal and conceptual difficulties, besides the fact that there is very little empirical support for such kinds of movement.

(11.) In inflectional and agglutinating languages, syntactic licensing corresponds to the operation of case assignment. Our conviction that syntactic licensing takes place by case assignment only in languages with a case morphology is supported by Kiparsky (1991: 1): "Abstract Case and AGR (syntactic elements assumed to be present in all languages independently of morphology) do not exist."

(12.) Cf. Koopman (1984: 124), who claims that in Chinese "case" is assigned to the right.

(13.) Originally, ba was a verb meaning 'grasp' or 'hold.' As for its role in Modern Chinese, ba is often regarded as pure marker of the direct object or as a case marker. Cf. Zou (1993), for example. Paul (1982: 59, 123f.) claims that ba differs from coverbs like yong 'using, with the help of,' gei 'for, to,' and others in that it cannot assume the A-not-A form. In fact, the perfective A-not-A form of ba, ba-mei-ba, is accepted by many native speakers of Chinese. Cf. the examples (11b) and (12b) in Section 4.3.

(14.) According to Falk (1991: 199f.), in languages like English or German, nominative case is not actually a case, for nouns (or NPs) used in isolation (in the "citation form") are nominative, and there is, naturally, no source for case to be assigned to a form in isolation.

(15.) Cf. Wurzel (2000).

(16.) Our approach conforms to the spirit of the strong lexicalist hypothesis, which postulates that rules of syntax may make no reference to the morphological structure of word forms. Cf. Di Sciullo and Williams (1987: 1): "Just as morphology has atoms, so does syntax, and words are commonly taken to be the atoms of syntax. We will call words in this sense syntactic atoms."

(17.) McCawley (1994: 179), for example, differentiates between "two syntactically distinct types" which he calls "reduplicative yes/no questions" and "disjunctive yes/no questions," respectively.

(18.) McCawley (1994: 180f.) correctly objects to Huang's (1991) treatment of the negative element in reduplicative questions as a fake negation rather than a real negation, that is as an element that does not appear in the deep structure. In our system, the negative element, incorporated in the morphological verb form, does appear at the level of D-structure.

(19.) Cf. Hsieh (2001: xi, 104, 22f.)

(20.) According to Mei, the so-called ba-construction in this example comes up from a place adverbial like zai bilu-li (lit. 'in the fireplace-inside' = 'in the fireplace'). This is questionable, since locative adjuncts are compatible with A-not-A predicates (cf. Ernst 1994).

(21.) In (12a), the use of ba is even obligatory, because the full verb is tied to its base position for structural reasons. The same applies to the use of ba-mei-ba in (12b).

(22.) Klein et al. (2000: 765ff.) claim that bu is normally selected in "zero-marking" sentences. Hsieh (2001: 54f.) postulates that bu is used for denying a "non-dynamic" situation, while mei(you) is used to deny a "dynamic" situation.

(23.) W. Wang (1965) was the first to assume that the verb-suffix--le occurring in affirmative sentences and the preverbal particle you occurring in negative sentences are allomorphs of a perfective morpheme. In terms of Huang (1988: 282), that is to say: "Wang observed that the two elements--le and you, both having a meaning and function similar to that of the perfective aspect, are in complementary distribution."

(24.) Hsieh (2001: 138ff.) marks examples like (13) through (15) given by Shao with "nonstandard," because in her system bu cannot occur in the VO-neg pattern at all: only mei(you) is a clausal negation heading a NegP, while bu is a constituent negation adjoined to PredP or V' (Hsieh 2001: 56-60); only mei(you) can be used to deny presuppositions that are associated with sentences (Hsieh 2001: 69f.).

(25.) Interestingly enough, the syntactic pattern VP-neg-VP representing a borderline type between disjunctive questions with haishi 'or' on the one hand, and A-not-A questions on the other, does show island effects, as noted by Huang.

(26.) By contrast, ma questions are compatible not only with "information focus" but also with "identificational focus" in the sense of Kiss (1998).

(27.) Whereas Drubig (1994) had declarative sentences in mind, Schaffar and Chen (2001: 857f.) establish a relationship between A-not-A predicates and Drubig's PollP. More precisely, they advocate that in A-not-A questions [Poll.sup.0] is occupied by some kind of question operator. Yet, strictly speaking, Schaffar and Chen do not clearly distinguish between the morphological V-not-V form of the verb and an abstract question feature in [Pol.sup.0]. Instead, they try to "analyze the V-neg-V form as a question operator in Poll" (Schaffar and Chen 2001: 857). In consequence, they provide a sentence model according to which [Poll.sup.0] can be alternatively occupied by 0 (affirmation), bu/mei (assertive negation), zhi ('only'), and V-bu/mei-V (yes/no question). As an unavoidable result of this, VP remains literally empty in Schaffar and Chen's (2001: 858) sentence model (33).

(28.) Actually, [+Q] is an abbreviation of the more complex question feature [+Q, -Wh], which is one specification of the abstract clausal typing feature [+/-Q, +/-Wh]. It ensues that wh-questions have the feature specification [-Q, +Wh], while declaratives are marked by [-Q, -Wh].

(29.) Recall that "attraction" involves movement of a set of grammatical features carried by a head on their own (without movement of the corresponding phonetic features). See Radford (1997: 230).

(30.) The notion of "sister adjunction" stems from the GB theory. To "sister adjoin" one constituent A to another constituent B is to attach A under the node C immediately dominating B. Opposed to this, to "Chomsky-adjoin" A to B means to create a new B-node which immediately dominates both A and B. Cf. Radford (1981: 169).

(31.) Cf. Krifka (2001a: 2): question meanings are functions that, when applied to the meaning of the answer, yield a proposition.

(32.) Arguably, the extended predicate of A-not-A and A-not questions is an instance for a "phase" along the lines of Chomsky (1998: 20, 1999: 9). Either a verb phrase in which all theta roles are assigned, vP, or a full clause including tense and force can be a "phase" in Chomsky's sense.

(33.) More precisely, Ernst (1994: 246), following Aqvist (1965), takes [+Qu] "as representing an imperative operator which requests information of the listener." Groenendijk and Stokhof (1997) criticize Aqvist's view, which is also maintained by Vanderveken (1990). Contrary to Aqvist and Vanderveken, Groenendijk and Stokhof regard asking a question as a basic speech act. Compare note 5 above.

(34.) That is to say, the existence of the car is presupposed in (21a) and (21b).

(35.) As opposed to this, universal quantifiers like every boy or each student are topical, so that they can quantify into wh-questions, cf. Krifka (2001b: 12). But see Chierchia (1993: 213ff.), who postulates that quantifying into questions is impossible in general.

(36.) I am much indebted to Paul Portner for this hint.

(37.) Note that in cases like (21a) and (21b), LF-raising to "Comp" cannot be "rescued" by Li's (1992: 138) proposal that licensing by the A-not-A question operator must take place at S-structure. Such an arbitrary ad hoc assumption would amount to saying that the syntactic level of LF, otherwise responsible for wh-movement, quantifier raising, and scope interpretation by definition, is idle in the particular case of question operator raising. Here, the question arises what the point of a movement operation without any impact would be.

(38.) Along these lines, this type of shi-bu-shi is rendered as AM-not-AM in the subsequent examples.

(39.) In terms of our sentence model (7), VP modifiers are in fact V' modifiers. Regardless of this fact, we use the more familiar notion "VP modifier" in the subsequent text.

(40.) In this S-structure, for the direct object to be licensed, the verb has moved to the V'-shell head position marked with [t'.sub.2]. Having licensed the direct object from this position, the verb has moved on to the lowest V'-shell head position, which c-commands the indirect object. From there, it licenses the indirect object. Cf. Gasde (1998: 70).

(41.) Cf. Rochemont and Culicover (1990: 17).

(42.) Note that the shi-bu-shi operator cannot appear in the embedded clause: (i) *Zhang San yunxu Li Si shi-bu-shi he pijiu? That is, the operator concerned must have scope over the matrix predicate, even if only the embedded predicate is "new information." Von Stechow (1991: 810) and Drubig (1994: 20ff.) discuss the problem with the help of English focus-sensitive particles like only and others which can be ambiguous with respect to focus. See also Taglicht (1984).

(43.) This fact is significant insofar as it vindicates our hypothesis that our F[2.sup.0] and Drubig's (1994) [Poll.sup.0] are distinct sentence positions. Cf. note 27.

(44.) Additionally, the VO-neg pattern is present in several southeastern Asian languages, as noted by Chen and Schaffar (1997).

(45.) The occurrence frequency of ne in wh-questions is low: out of the total of 367 examples gathered by Shi (1997), 348 wh-elements are interpreted as interrogative elements without being licensed by the so-called question operator ne or any other relevant markers; only 19 wh-elements occur with ne, which merely constitutes five percent of the data (Shi 1997: 133).

(46.) See also Hu (1981a: 348), Zhu (1982: 207ff.), and Tang (1998: 41ff.).


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Received 8 February 2002

Revised version received

23 October 2002

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