Processing of the Mandarin polarity item renhe ‘any’
The Mandarin renhe is similar to the English any in terms of polarity sensitivity (Wang 1993; Wang & Hsieh 1996; Kuo 2003; Cheng & Giannakidou 2013; Shyu 2016). However, the following phenomena regarding any in relative clause environments have not been surveyed with respect to renhe: (a) the NPI illusion effect reported in studies like Parker & Phillips (2011; 2016); (b) the subtrigging effect discussed in LeGrand (1975) and Dayal (1998; 2004). We conducted two untimed, offline acceptability judgment experiments and the results suggest that: (i) NPI illusion does not appear in Mandarin in untimed offline processing, (ii) the subtrigging effect of renhe holds, and (iii) renhe can be licensed by certain types of declarative verbs like tongyi ‘agree’ and zancheng ‘approve’. The results confirm the strict structural requirement of the c-commanding relation between a negation licensor and renhe (Wang 1993) and the licensing of renhe in non-veridical contexts (Cheng & Giannakidou 2013), and further suggest additional licensing environments for renhe: relative clauses and declarative verbs. This requires reconsideration of positing non-veridicality as a necessary licensing condition for renhe and calls for future research on how renhe is licensed under these two licensing environments.
Keywords: NPI, subtrigging, relative clause, free choice, locality
Published online: 29 September 2021
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