Mandarin shì clefts and the syntax of discourse congruence
Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine
October 2020
 

[Revised title: "Mandarin exhaustive focus shì and the syntax of discourse congruence"]

This paper describes three constraints that together govern the distribution of the exhaustive focus marker shì in Mandarin Chinese. First, I argue that shì is a sentential focus particle that is subject to a requirement to adjoin as low as possible within its clause or phase. Second, I show that shì requires a congruent Question Under Discussion (QUD) and demonstrate the effects of this semantic constraint on the distribution of shì. Third and finally, I show that there are certain reduced clauses where shì is completely disallowed, although other focus particles such as `only' may appear. I propose that this last restriction is a particular proposal for the syntax/semantics of discourse congruence: reference to a QUD — required by the semantics of shì — is mediated by a functional head in the high CP periphery. Shì is thus unavailable in reduced clauses which do not project this high functional layer.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005176
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Submitted to Remus Gergel, Augustin Speyer, Ingo Reich (eds.) "Particles in German, English, and beyond"
keywords: mandarin, shì, qud, focus particle, cleft, semantics, syntax
previous versions: v1 [April 2020]
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