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Title: A Semantic Study of Universal Quantification in Chinese
Authors: Zhang, Lei
Keywords: Sino-Tibetan Languages
Chinese Language
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: City University of Hong Kong
Abstract: This work is devoted to the investigation of the semantics of universal quantification in Mandarin Chinese based on previous studies mainly by employing some relevant theories in formal semantics, especially the theory of tripartite structures, first put forward by Kamp (1981) and Heim (1982). Several universal quantifiers in common use are chosen to be studied according to their syntactic positions. The distribution, co-occurrence possibilities, semantic function(s) and properties of mei, ge, suoyou, quan and dou are discussed, respectively. The thesis aims to answer the following questions. First, do all D-UQs have the same semantics? Is a Mandarin D-UQ an operator or a variable? If it is an operator, is it a quantifier or a sum operator? Second, what is the semantics of dou, adverbial quan and adverbial ge? What role does each play when two of the three adverbs co-occur? The contributions of this thesis lie in the following aspects. First, the so-called D-UQs in Mandarin do not show the same semantic function(s). Mei is a dual-function operator; determiner ge is a janus, which is sometimes collective and sometimes distributive; suoyou and determiner quan are sum operators and the latter is intrinsically collective. Second, dou is a multi-function operator, adverbial quan is a dual-function operator, whereas adverbial ge is just a distributor. As a distributor, adverbial ge requires a skolem function in its c-command domain and it implies each member in its domain has the property of the predicate and gets its own individual(s) or characteristics from the set of the distributed share. As a quantifier, adverbial quan emphasizes that every element quantified by quan has a common property, whereas dou does not have the above restriction or tendency. Last, in the case that two of the three A-UQs discussed above co-occur in the same sentence, the one occurring first in the linear order will act as the domain restrictor when it does not associate with a set of degrees/situations or its distributive property is weaker than the one occurring after; otherwise, it is a quantifier/distributor. The second adverb is alwa ys a quantifier/distributor.
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