Nobody there? On the non-existence of nobody in Mandarin Chinese and related issues
Waltraud Paul
February 2021

The present article demonstrates how the so far unchallenged misanalysis within Chinese linguistics of a few, but central data points has led to a distorted picture biasing inter alia the general typology of wh-in-situ languages as well as the cross-linguistic study of Quantifier Phrases. This is the case for méi yǒu rén ‘not exist person’, hěnshǎo yǒu rén ‘rarely exist person’ and zhǐ yǒu DP ‘only exist DP’, which are not nominal projections equivalent of ‘nobody’, ‘only DP’ and ‘few people’ as currently assumed, but existential constructions: ‘there isn’t anybody’, ‘there is only DP’, ‘there are rarely people’. In addition, a subset of speakers have reanalysed hěnshǎo (yǒu) rén with a covert yǒu ‘exist’ as a QP hěnshǎo rén ‘few people’. A corpus study highlights the limited distribution of hěnshǎo rén ‘few people’, which shows it not to be on a par with its antonym hěn duō rén ‘many people’.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005756
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: accepted for publication in the Canadian Journal of Linguistics
keywords: wh-in-situ languages, intervention effect, monotone decreasing vs increasing quantifiers, existential construction, secondary predicate, reanalysis, mandarin chinese, syntax
previous versions: v1 [February 2021]
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