Chinese Conditionals and the Theory of Conditionals

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Chinese Conditionals and the Theory of Conditionals

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dc.contributor.author Chierchia, Gennaro
dc.date.accessioned 2010-03-09T20:18:31Z
dc.date.issued 2000
dc.identifier.citation Chierchia, Gennaro. 2000. Chinese conditionals and the theory of conditionals. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 9(1): 1-54. en_US
dc.identifier.issn 0925-8558 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:3716373
dc.description.abstract As is well known, in conditionals and, more generally, in structures involving adverbs of quantification, indefinite NPs like a cat display a variable quantificational force. Within DRT this phenomenon is analyzed by assimilating indefinites to variables. Unlike other variable-like elements, however, indefinites cannot be anaphoric to something else. That is, one cannot say things like "a cat usually meows if a cat is hungry" meaning "a cat usually meows if it is hungry." This is generally explained in terms of a novelty condition: indefinites must introduce novel variables. Cheng and Huang (1996) discuss and analyze two types of Chinese conditionals in which wh- words display quantificational variability. In one type of conditional, their behavior is fully analogous to that of indefinites. In the other, they behave like indefinites in the antecedent, while in the consequent they must be interpreted as bound pronouns. Thus, in DR-theoretic terms, Chinese wh-words obey the novelty condition in the antecedent but not in the consequent of a conditional. This behavior is unexpected. The present paper addresses this issue. The main claim is that a certain version of Dynamic Semantics leads one to expect elements with exactly the properties of Chinese wh-words. In particular, Dynamic Semantics makes it possible to reverse, in a sense, the classic DR-theoretic strategy. One can view indefinites as existentially quantified terms: however, their existential force can be overridden by operators in their local environment that wipe out their existential force, as it were, and get them to act like variables. If one takes this line, the Novelty Condition becomes dispensable and the problem disappears. The behavior of Chinese wh-words is also compared to that of other elements analyzable as indefinite pronominals, such as si in Italian or one in English. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Linguistics en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Springer Verlag en_US
dc.relation.isversionof doi:10.1023/A:1008317108361 en_US
dc.relation.hasversion http://semarch.linguistics.fas.nyu.edu/barker/Dynamics/chierchia-chinese-conditionals.pdf en_US
dash.license META_ONLY
dc.title Chinese Conditionals and the Theory of Conditionals en_US
dc.type Journal Article en_US
dc.description.version Version of Record en_US
dc.relation.journal Journal of East Asian Linguistics en_US
dash.depositing.author Chierchia, Gennaro
dash.embargo.until 10000-01-01

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  • FAS Scholarly Articles [7103]
    Peer reviewed scholarly articles from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University

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