The Bound Variable Hierarchy and Donkey Anaphora in Mandarin Chinese
Cheng and Huang (1996) argue that both unselective binding and E-type pronoun strategies are necessary for the interpretation of natural language sentences and claim that there exists a correspondence between two sentence types in Chinese and the two strategies, namely that the interpretation of the “wh … wh” construction (which they call “bare conditional”) employs the unselective binding strategy, while the ruguo ‘if’ and dou ‘all’ conditionals use the E-type pronoun strategy. They also suggest that there is a complementary distribution between bare conditionals and ruguo/dou conditionals in the sense that the latter allows all the NP forms, e.g. (empty) pronouns and definite NPs, except for wh-phrases in their consequent clauses, and can even have a consequent clause with no anaphoric NP in it, while the former permits only the same wh-phrase appearing in both the antecedent clause and the consequent clause. Although we agree with Cheng and Huang on the necessity of the two strategies in natural language interpretation, we see apparent exceptions to the correspondence between sentence types and interpretation strategies and the complementary distribution between wh-phrases and other NPs in bare conditionals and ruguo/dou conditionals. We think that the claimed correspondence and complementary distribution are the default or preferred patterns, or a special case of a more general picture, namely that (i) bare conditionals prefer the unselective binding strategy and the ruguo ‘if’ and dou ‘all’ conditionals, the E-type pronoun strategy; and (ii) wh-phrases are more suitable for being a bound variable, and pronouns are more suitable for being the E-type pronoun. This paper proposes a Bound Variable Hierarchy to help account for the distribution of wh-phrases and pronouns in Chinese conditionals and claims that any deviation from the preferred patterns will require additional contexts or accommodation.
Keywords: Bound Variable Hierarchy, Mandarin Chinese, unselective binding, E-type pronouns, Donkey anaphora
Published online: 31 December 2015
Cited by 1 other publications
Cheng, Lisa Lai-Shen & C. -T. James Huang
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