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.
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
ISBN 978-1-57473-471-3 library binding
vii + 598 pages
publication date: 2017
published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA