Choice functions and scope of existential polarity wh-phrases in mandarin chinese

Linguistics and Philosophy 27 (4):451-491 (2004)
Abstract
A recent popular analysis of English indefinites isthat they involve a choice function mechanism in their semantic interpretation. However,there are diversified views regarding how intermediate scope readings should be dealt withand which level(s) existential closure should apply to. This paper attempts to make acontribution to this debate by examining existential polarity wh-phrases in Chinese. I showthat unlike the behaviors of polarity indefinites in St''át''imcets reported by Matthewson(1999), intermediate scope readings are possible for polarity wh-phrases in Chinese but aresubject to some locality conditions. I suggest that implicit arguments of choice functionsmight have a parametric value the choice of which affects availability of intermediate readings.The findings in this paper thus revive the possibility, rejected by Matthewson (1999), that thechoice function mechanism may vary from language to language or from indefinite NPs in onelanguage to indefinite NPs in another language or even from one type of indefiniteNP to another type of indefinite NP within the same language.
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