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The Epistemic Indefinite shenme in Mandarin
Zhuo Chen
115-121 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


It is found that non-interrogative wh-phrases in Mandarin can occur in simple affirmative episodic sentences, which contradicts the previous accounts that treat them as polarity items (Lin 1998, Xie 2007, a.o.). This paper studies one particular wh-item shenme in Mandarin and investigates the epistemic ignorance effect generated by shenme when it occurs in an affirmative episodic sentence. It is argued that shenme is a kind classifier that individuates a kind into its subkinds. The anti-singleton post-supposition imposed by shenme gives rise to the ignorance effect.

Published in

Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
Table of contents
Printed edition: $410.00