On the scope of quantifier phrases in Chinese passive construction
Quantifier phrases (QP) can co-occur in a single sentence, which may cause ambiguity in terms of scope relation, viz. wide scope and narrow scope interpretations. Aoun & Li (1993) claim that quantifier scope ambiguity also exists in Chinese passive construction, such as yige nűren bei meige ren ma ‘a woman was scolded by everyone’. Following Lee (1986)’s proposal, it is argued in this paper that the scopal relations of Chinese QPs are not purely syntactic as in Aoun & Li’s analysis, but should be determined by the interaction between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Based on naturalistic data, it is shown that (i) Chinese QPs can be classified into whQP, distributive-universal QP and group-denoting QP, whose semantic properties determine the scope relations between them; (ii) in general, a QP is devoid of referentiality, yet it can acquire referentiality depending on its co-occurrence with other QPs or contextual factors; (iii) the subject definiteness constraint in Chinese, a language-specific constraint, would affect the interpretation of subject QPs in Chinese passive construction.