Thursday 26 February

Speaker: Linda Badan (École Normale Supérieure, Paris) & Lisa L. Cheng (Leiden University)
Title: Exclamatives in Mandarin Chinese
Date: Thursday February 26th
Venue: Huizinga 4
Time: 15:15 – 16:30 hrs


This talk deals with exclamatives in Mandarin and has two main objectives. The first is the application of the exclamativity tests proposed in the literature to identify the “true” sentential exclamatives in Mandarin. The second goal is to find the essential components of sentential exclamatives in Mandarin, so as to open a new perspective on the research on exclamatives in general. Our starting point is Zanuttini and Portner’s (2000, 2003) proposal, which argue that two fundamental syntactic components that identify a clause as exclamative are a factive operator and a wh-operator. They identify the force of exclamatives, with a semantic operation called widening, which is connected to the surprise reading that generally is regarded as always implied by exclamatives. In this talk, we show that there are only two types of true exclamatives in Mandarin, one involving the more deictic type of exclamatives, with zhème/nàme as markers of scalar focus, and the other with duōme, which is also scalar in nature. We argue that these two types of exclamatives reveal that, contra Zanuttini and Portner, neither wh-interrogativity, nor surprise is an essential property of exclamatives. Instead, scalar focus, ego-evidentiality as well as factivity form an integral part of exclamatives.

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