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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

This article proposes a syntax for Mandarin even/all constructions. We show that “focus movement” under ‘even’ is not deeply connected to semantic focus or stress, since the same movement occurs in the absence of focus or prosodic triggers. Rather, these movements are mediated by a feature shared across ‘even’ and ‘all’ constructions, which we propose is the maximality feature on a potentially covert operator. This result, when placed alongside findings by Horvath (2007) and Cable (2007), supports the hypothesis that A-bar “focus movement” is always operator-driven. The syntactic similarities between ‘even’ and ‘all’ in Mandarin suggest a semantics where ‘even’ is built compositionally from a non-focus-sensitive ‘all’ (dou) plus a scalar focus operator (lian). We present a preliminary semantics of this kind, and discuss some challenges it faces. Finally, we address “partial focus movement” data that are initially unexpected on our account, and show how they can be incorporated under a framework that allows copy movement and PF deletion.

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