Interrogative Strategies : An Areal Typology of the Languages of China

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2013
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Luo, Tianhua
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This dissertation explores the diversity and unity of the interrogative strategies in 138 languages of China. It adopts an areal-typological approach and presents a quantitative analysis on 20 structural features (mostly morphosyntactic parameters).



This work provides substantive structural features of interrogatives in individual languages and seeks to establish correlations in different structural features. It also seeks to establish whether particular areal distributions of structural features are the result of language contact among neighboring languages. Hence, structural features, correlations in parameters, and areal factors in interrogative strategies are the major contributions of this work.



The major contents and findings are summarized as follows:



After an introduction in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 gives a survey of the interrogative strategies in the languages of China, with also studies in two individual languages, Standard Chinese and Yongxin Gan, presenting a profile of interrogative strategies of these languages.



Several specific topics on interrogative strategies are discussed in Chapters 3-6. Chapter 3 suggests that the positions of question particles in the languages of China are very different from the worldwide language sample (Dryer 2005b) in that most languages of China prefer sentence-final positions, while Dryer’s sample reports that a much smaller proportion of other languages have sentence-final question particles. Also, the discussion on polar questions formed by two adjacent final particles in Sinitic languages, i.e. ma ne questions, reveals that such questions are formed by a question particle plus a final particle, which dispels the myth of the so-called ‘questions formed by two question particles.’



In the discussion on disjunctions and alternative questions, Chapter 4 provides criteria for distinguishing X-neg-X questions and alternative questions in Sinitic, as X-neg-X questions are frequently treated as a subtype of alternative questions in the literature. This chapter also proposes an or vs or/or? typology in alternative questions and discusses what is important to such a typology because disjunctions in declaratives and interrogatives are different in many languages of China, while some other languages do not demonstrate such a difference. The typology matters in that it correlates with (at least) some word order parameters, which are summarized in several generalizations (Section 4.2). Except for those with normal disjunctions, some languages are found to use particles as disjunctive strategies. A further study shows that particles to be chosen after the second disjunct are more likely to be dropped than those after the first disjunct.



In Chapter 5, quite different from the findings in a worldwide language sample (Dryer 2005c), wh- in situ is found to be a general characteristic of the languages of China. A rare phenomenon, wh-reduplication in interrogative phrases, is found in 30 languages (mostly Tibeto-Burman). Nevertheless, individual wh-phrases vary in the capability of reduplication, particularly words like who, what, where, and which can be reduplicated very easily, while how, when, and why bear some difficulty, and how many/much and how long (time) can hardly be reduplicated. The explanation is that reduplicating wh-phrases is only possible when a certain phrase can semantically carry a plural meaning.



Three types of verb-related questions, in particular questions formed by a pre-verb interrogative marker, verb-reduplication, and interrogative verbs, are brought together in Chapter 6. The first two types are polar questions and the third type is content questions. Sinitic languages are generally considered to be ‘isolating’ languages that lack inflectional morphology. This chapter fine-tunes such claims by bringing three types of verb-related interrogatives (all reported in Sinitic languages) together and proposes that such interrogatives are clear cases of morphological operations.



Interrogative strategies correlate with each other and with other categories and parameters. In a typological and areal-historical assessment of interrogatives, Chapter 7 brings 20 parameters together and finds some correlations in a frequency-based approach. As a system, individual strategies correlate with each other; as a part of larger systems of language, they correlate with many other morphosyntactic parameters and these correlations are summarized in 30 generalizations (Section 7.1). Interrogative strategies vary and change in space and time. Geographical factors, notably contact with (and borrowing from) Standard Chinese in many groups of languages, as well as historical factors, notably the pace of change, i.e. pertinacity or transience in individual interrogative structures and in individual groups of languages, are presented (Section 7.2). Chapter 7 hence holds that diversity in interrogative strategies is the (unstable) result and representation of language change in space and time.

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ISO 690LUO, Tianhua, 2013. Interrogative Strategies : An Areal Typology of the Languages of China [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz
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@phdthesis{Luo2013Inter-27654,
  year={2013},
  title={Interrogative Strategies : An Areal Typology of the Languages of China},
  author={Luo, Tianhua},
  address={Konstanz},
  school={Universität Konstanz}
}
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    <dcterms:abstract xml:lang="eng">This dissertation explores the diversity and unity of the interrogative strategies in 138 languages of China. It adopts an areal-typological approach and presents a quantitative analysis on 20 structural features (mostly morphosyntactic parameters).&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;This work provides substantive structural features of interrogatives in individual languages and seeks to establish correlations in different structural features. It also seeks to establish whether particular areal distributions of structural features are the result of language contact among neighboring languages. Hence, structural features, correlations in parameters, and areal factors in interrogative strategies are the major contributions of this work.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The major contents and findings are summarized as follows:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;After an introduction in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 gives a survey of the interrogative strategies in the languages of China, with also studies in two individual languages, Standard Chinese and Yongxin Gan, presenting a profile of interrogative strategies of these languages.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Several specific topics on interrogative strategies are discussed in Chapters 3-6. Chapter 3 suggests that the positions of question particles in the languages of China are very different from the worldwide language sample (Dryer 2005b) in that most languages of China prefer sentence-final positions, while Dryer’s sample reports that a much smaller proportion of other languages have sentence-final question particles. Also, the discussion on polar questions formed by two adjacent final particles in Sinitic languages, i.e. ma ne questions, reveals that such questions are formed by a question particle plus a final particle, which dispels the myth of the so-called ‘questions formed by two question particles.’&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In the discussion on disjunctions and alternative questions, Chapter 4 provides criteria for distinguishing X-neg-X questions and alternative questions in Sinitic, as X-neg-X questions are frequently treated as a subtype of alternative questions in the literature. This chapter also proposes an or vs or/or? typology in alternative questions and discusses what is important to such a typology because disjunctions in declaratives and interrogatives are different in many languages of China, while some other languages do not demonstrate such a difference. The typology matters in that it correlates with (at least) some word order parameters, which are summarized in several generalizations (Section 4.2). Except for those with normal disjunctions, some languages are found to use particles as disjunctive strategies. A further study shows that particles to be chosen after the second disjunct are more likely to be dropped than those after the first disjunct.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In Chapter 5, quite different from the findings in a worldwide language sample (Dryer 2005c), wh- in situ is found to be a general characteristic of the languages of China. A rare phenomenon, wh-reduplication in interrogative phrases, is found in 30 languages (mostly Tibeto-Burman). Nevertheless, individual wh-phrases vary in the capability of reduplication, particularly words like who, what, where, and which can be reduplicated very easily, while how, when, and why bear some difficulty, and how many/much and how long (time) can hardly be reduplicated. The explanation is that reduplicating wh-phrases is only possible when a certain phrase can semantically carry a plural meaning.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Three types of verb-related questions, in particular questions formed by a pre-verb interrogative marker, verb-reduplication, and interrogative verbs, are brought together in Chapter 6. The first two types are polar questions and the third type is content questions. Sinitic languages are generally considered to be ‘isolating’ languages that lack inflectional morphology. This chapter fine-tunes such claims by bringing three types of verb-related interrogatives (all reported in Sinitic languages) together and proposes that such interrogatives are clear cases of morphological operations.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Interrogative strategies correlate with each other and with other categories and parameters. In a typological and areal-historical assessment of interrogatives, Chapter 7 brings 20 parameters together and finds some correlations in a frequency-based approach. As a system, individual strategies correlate with each other; as a part of larger systems of language, they correlate with many other morphosyntactic parameters and these correlations are summarized in 30 generalizations (Section 7.1). Interrogative strategies vary and change in space and time. Geographical factors, notably contact with (and borrowing from) Standard Chinese in many groups of languages, as well as historical factors, notably the pace of change, i.e. pertinacity or transience in individual interrogative structures and in individual groups of languages, are presented (Section 7.2). Chapter 7 hence holds that diversity in interrogative strategies is the (unstable) result and representation of language change in space and time.</dcterms:abstract>
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