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date: 25 May 2024

Focus in Chinesefree

Focus in Chinesefree

  • Peppina Po-lun LeePeppina Po-lun LeeHong Kong Metropolitan University
  •  and Yueming SunYueming SunShandong University

Summary

Focus is a phenomenon intertwined between different levels of linguistics and context/discourse, and different languages appeal to different ways in marking focus. Chinese mainly adopts syntactic structures and focus markers for focus marking. Different from European languages, it is widely acknowledged that Chinese uses more syntax and less phonology in focus realization. It is argued that Chinese is a language that exhibits a reverse relationship between syntactic positioning and phonological prominence of focus, and focus types in Chinese are generally viewed from a grammatical perspective. With syntax as a prominent way of focus marking, Chinese appeals to a wide range of syntactic constructions to mark focus. While sentence-final position by default is taken as the position where new information is located, focus can be grammatically marked by constructions like shi…de ‘be…DE’ construction, bare shi construction, and bare de construction, with bare shi construction seemingly representing the closest to cleft constituent among the three. Apart from the variants in different shi constructions, object preposing is also another way of grammatical focus marking in Chinese, which involves the issue of whether the preposed object marks focus or subtopic, with both bearing a contrastive feature.

Apart from focus marking through syntactic constructions, Chinese appeals to preverbal focus adverbs as their focus particles. Natural language includes two types of focus particles—namely, restrictive and additive particles. For restrictive adverbs, Chinese appeals to the first group through the adjunction of the exclusive adverb, including zhi(-you/-shi) ‘only(-have/be)’, with exclusiveness conducted by grammatical mechanism. Apart from this, the second group includes the widely recognized restrictive focus particles that do not perform restrictive focus marking through adjunction. Typical members include jiu ‘only’, cai ‘only’, and dou ‘all’, which are sensitive to focus and affect the truth condition of a sentence. Among the restrictive focus particles, jiu and cai are most controversial, with both translated as only in English. For additive particles, one widely discussed focus-marking construction is lian...dou/ye ‘even...all/also’, which is argued to mark inclusive or additive focus. Other additive adverbs include at least four—namely, you ‘again/too’, ye ‘also’, hai ‘still’, and zai ‘again’, with their English counterparts taken as also, even, again, still, or too.

Focus markers in Chinese tend to be polysemous in meaning, making their semantics very complicated. On top of this, it is claimed that the linear order of constituents also plays an important role in focus structuring in Mandarin, with discourse and prosody structurally interacting with word order or syntactic structures to determine focus structures in Chinese. Linearity and syntax represent the two major ways of focus marking in Chinese. This is unlike English and other European languages, in which intonation and phonological prominence represent the major way.

Subjects

  • Semantics

1. An Overview: Focus in Chinese

One prominent function of natural language is to convey information. As early as in late 1920s, the Prague School notably stated grammatical means to be the core way that information is organized in discourse (see, e.g., Sgall et al., 1986). Riding from this, there is general consensus that the linear order of constituents is to a certain extent determined by what is contextually known and what is not, which is what is captured under the concept of givenness and newness proposed.

From a theoretical perspective, the status of Information Structure (IS) as a component of grammar was not formally recognized until Lambrecht (1994), which takes IS as a determining factor in the formal structuring of sentences. Erteschik-Shir (2007) stated that among all IS notions, focus is one of the only two primitives needed to account for all IS phenomena. As stated in Jackendoff (1972), there is a correlation between certain prosodic patterns and certain pragmatic and semantic effects, and “focus” is a theoretical notion that is used in order to account for such a correlation. Deriving from Jackendoff (1972), the association of focus under the semantic representation is considered to be in focus-background partition, as proposed in Partee (1991), Hajičová et al. (1998), and many others. It was assumed that in semantics, the background is mapped onto the restrictor and the focus onto the nuclear scope, forming the tripartite quantification structures. In a sentence, expressions within the focus domain that are not focused are said to be in the background of the focus domain, with the focus within the focus domain generally to be replaced by some alternatives, which has led to various theories, purely semantic or pragmatic, to account for the relation between the focus and the focus alternatives.

Pragmatic theories of focus association are represented by Rooth (1985, 1992, 1995) and von Fintel (1994) for focus interpretation. The pragmatic definition of focus may differ from the semantic one in that the complement of the focus (i.e., the background part) may not always be presupposed. According to Dik (1997),

The focal information in a linguistic expression is that information which is relatively the most important or salient in the given communicative setting, and considered by the speaker to be most essential for the addressee to integrate into his pragmatic information.

(cited from Dik, 1997, p. 326)

According to Erteschik-Shir (2007), the focus of an answer does not necessarily presuppose the existence of the focused entity, which is determined by other pragmatic factors. Even though focus may be argued to be syntactically anchored or semantically interpreted, it is closely related to pragmatic and contextual/discourse factors as well.

Concluding from different theoretical backgrounds, focus can be regarded as a phenomenon intertwined between different levels of linguistics and context/discourse. Moreover, previous studies on focus structure suggested that different languages may appeal to different ways in marking focus.

1.1 Grammatical Marking of Focus in Chinese

The study of focus representation and focus interpretation has become a major issue in both semantics and syntax, and it is well acknowledged that focus marking demonstrates a cross-linguistic variation. Although much work on focus structure has been conducted, covering a wide range of languages from different linguistic families, an overall picture of how Chinese marks focus is yet to be provided, despite individual studies on a few isolated phenomena.

It is widely acknowledged that in terms of grammar, natural language appeals to four ways to mark focus: (a) syntactic structures, (b) focus markers, (c) pitch accents, or (d) the combination of these devices (see, among many others, Chen et al., 2016; Erteschik-Shir, 2007; Gasde, 1998; Krifka & Féry, 2008; Lambrecht, 1994). Chinese mainly adopts (a) syntactic structures and (b) focus markers, and it by default takes the sentence-final position as the position where new information is located, hence the syntactic structural position for informational focus. Despite the prominence of linear order and other structural notions in marking focus in Chinese, intonation and other tonal events also interact with word order to determine the information structure of the sentence. In West Germanic languages, focus has a systematic manifestation via pitch accent, which means that regardless of whether the focused element is situated in the syntactically favored focus position, prosodic prominence may be pronounced to signal focus. Different from European languages, Chinese uses more syntax and less phonology in focus realization. Xu (2004) argues that Chinese is a language that exhibits a reverse relationship between syntactic positioning and phonological prominence of focus, and focus types in Chinese are generally viewed from a grammatical perspective.

1.2 Focus Types and Prosodic Prominence in Chinese

Taken focus from a structural-semantic perspective, D. Q. Liu and Xu (1998) pointed out that there are three types of focus—namely, informational focus, contrastive focus, and topical focus, defined by two semantic features: [±prominent] and [±contrastive]. A constituent is defined as [+prominent] when it stands out against the rest of the clause as background and as [+contrastive] when it stands out against something outside of the clause as background.

Based on the above definitions, natural focus is marked as [+prominent, –contrastive] in a sentence, which is generally the informational focus at the sentence-final position. The following examples are from D. Q. Liu and Xu (1998).

(1)

1D. Q. Liu and Xu (1998) proposed that sentences in Chinese by default have the sentence-final position structurally taken as the position for informational focus, which is the natural focus of the sentence. It is generally the position where new information is located, namely, wuhu ‘Wuhu’ in (1a) and sanshi nian ‘thirty years’ in (1b).

Second, focus that is [+prominent, +contrastive] is contrastive focus, as shown in (2), which is an example given in D. Q. Liu and Xu (1998).

(2)

While both natural focus and contrastive focus are [+prominent], the latter and not the former is [+contrastive]. Zuotian xiawu ‘yesterday afternoon’ in (2) indicates that the time when he went to city/downtown was yesterday afternoon, not any other time, hence [+contrastive].

Third, topical focus in Chinese is marked as [–prominent, +contrastive]. Like contrastive focus, topical focus is also [+contrastive], but only the contrastive focus but not topical focus is [+prominent]. An example given in D. Q. Liu and Xu (1998) is shown in (3).

(3)

Lao Zhang in (3) is defined by D. Q. Liu and Xu as a topical focus, as it is marked by the topic particle me and provides contrastive reading with the NP Lao Wang in the preceding clause. As for “topical focus,” it is [–prominent] as it conveys given information, and alternative readings are evoked by its [+contrastive] feature. As alternatives are triggered, within the framework of Rooth (1985, 1992) and Krifka and Féry (2008), topical focus can be regarded as contrastive topic, hence justifying its [+contrastive] feature.

Chinese uses more syntax in focus realization, and with focus taken from a structural-semantic perspective, D. Q. Liu and Xu (1998) took focus as a grammatical category and defined it according to the position in the sentence. Unlike D. Q. Liu and Xu (1998), Lambrecht (1994) took focus as a semantic-pragmatic category. By the semantic-pragmatic category, Lambrecht (1994) took focus as the semantic component of a pragmatically structured proposition, with the (pragmatic) assertion different from the (pragmatic) presupposition. Under such a view, focus structure is classified into three types—namely, predicate-focus structure, argument-focus structure, and sentence-focus structure. Relevant examples are cited from Lambrecht (1994).

(4)

Sentences in (4) are taken from Lambrecht (1994). Words in uppercase mark the sentence accent, taken as the prosodic prominence of a given syllable in the sentence for focus marking. By defining focus as a pragmatic category, Lambrecht has explicitly separated focus realization from its grammatical realization in the sentence and its sentence accentuation. The terms “predicate focus,” “argument focus,” and “sentence focus” captured differences in the focus portions of the pragmatically structured proposition—namely, predicate, argument, and sentence. To account for the three types of focus structures, Lambrecht pointed out the following. In (4a), the assertion is the establishment of an aboutness relation between the topic referent and the event denoted by the predicate, and the focus is the predicate “broke down.” In (4b), the assertion is that the thing belonging to the speaker that broke down is the speaker’s car, and the focus is “car.” In (4c), the assertion extends over the entire proposition, and assertion and focus coincide in this structure.

The separation of grammatical realization of focus from the sentence accentuation has brough an issue of controversy, which is the distinction between focus and sentence accent. One argument is that sentence accentuation is not a focus-marking device per se but a general device for the marking of semantic portions within pragmatically structure propositions, whether focal or not. This claim in fact gains support in Chinese. While English employs intonational tonal events as a salient cue, Standard Chinese manifests focal prominence more in the distinctive realization of lexical tones, since the addition of pitch accents is prohibited (see Y. Y. Chen et al., 2016). Various acoustic cues have been recorded to be involved in focus marking; for example, lexical words under focus generally have a longer duration (see, e.g., Y. Y. Chen, 2006; Jin, 1996; Xu, 1999) and a higher mean intensity (see Shih, 1988). The effect of focusing and givenness is not only an issue of accenting and deaccenting in Chinese. Such a line of arguments is well noted in Xu (2004, p. 277), who further states that “Chinese is a language which exhibits a reverse relationship between syntactic positioning and phonological prominence of focus,” which is different from West Germanic languages.

Unlike Chinese, which has informational focus located in the final position, in languages such as English, focus has a systematic manifestation via pitch accent, regardless of whether the focused element is situated in the syntactically favored focus position or not.

(5)

(6)

When an English sentence like (5) is uttered out of the blue, either the subject, as in (5a), or the predicate, as in (5b), may be pronounced with salient prosodic prominence to signal focus, and words with the prosodic prominence are marked in uppercase, like the case of sentence accentuation in (4). In Chinese, as focus is generally located in the final position of the sentence, ku ‘crying’ in (6) would by default receive the informational focus. Consequently, as a focus element generally takes the default syntactically most-embedded position, the phonological marking of focus seems less prominent and can be considered optional, according to what is described in Xu (2004). Sentences in (7) again justified such a claim.

(7)

In (7b), as an answer to the preceding question (7a), meiguoren ‘Americans’ appears in the sentence-final position and the prosodic prominence is not required to be salient. To signal contrast (as in (7c)), the prosodic prominence on meiguoren ‘Americans’ (indicated by [ ]f) is necessary to invoke alternative readings, which can be made in contrast with meiguoren. Furthermore, when focus is not realized at the default structural focus position (as in (7d)), the prosodic prominence on meiguoren ‘Americans’ (indicated by [ ]f) is needed, which, as mentioned, may be realized as longer duration (see, e.g., Y. Y. Chen, 2006; Jin, 1996; Xu, 1999) and higher mean intensity (see Shih, 1988).

2. Syntactic Constructions for Focus Marking in Chinese

Section 1 shows that despite the phonological prominence or accenting in focus marking, Chinese shows a feature of syntactic prominence dominating over phonological prominence or accenting. In fact, Chinese boasts quite a range of morphological markers and syntactic constructions for focus marking, which have aroused much interest in the literature. Section 2 examines two important focus markings in Chinese, which are performed via syntactic reordering—namely, shi and shi…de constructions and object preposing in Chinese.

2.1 Focus Marked by shi and shi...de Constructions

Syntactic reordering is recognized to be one way Chinese used to mark contrastive focus, which seems to support that in Chinese, focus marking shows a feature of syntactic prominence dominating over phonological prominence or accenting. However, it is important to note that when syntactic devices are employed to convey focus, evidence abounds from well-controlled experiments that prosody is present even in well-known focus constructions. Jia et al. (2009) reported robust acoustic cues have been used to mark the focused element in the “shi-construction,” even with the presence of the immediately neighboring focus particle shi ‘be’.

Apart from the debate of acoustic cues in shi-construction, another issue of interest is whether relevant constructions related to shi—namely, shi…de construction, bare shi construction, and bare de construction—are Chinese clefts and whether bare shi construction represents the closest to cleft constituent among the three. For the three constructions related to shi, shi…de construction refers to the construction with the presence of two elements—namely, the copula shi ‘be’ and, to the right of shi, following a lexical verb and other clausal elements, the functional element de. Bare shi construction refers to the construction with the presence of the copula shi ‘be’ only, and the bare de construction refers to the construction with the presence of the functional element de only. As stated in Paul and Whitman (2008), “bare shi focus construction” is distinct from shi…de, and the latter is very different from cleft construction or pseudo-clefts in languages like English. Shi…de construction basically involves no A′ movement, making its semantic property of bipartitioning into focus and presupposition logically independent from A′ movement. To show the bipartition of focus and background, consider (2) again (cited from D. Q. Liu & Xu, 1998).

(2)

In (2), as a focus marker, the copula shi ‘be’ marks zuotian xiawu ‘yesterday afternoon’ as the contrastive focus, which contrasts with the background “he came into the city some other time.” However, the focus marked by shi only gives a contrastive focus, which lacks the exhaustive feature. For exhaustivity, definitions generally follow Kiss (1988), meaning that a focus possesses the [+exhaustive] feature if it performs an exhaustive identification on a set of entities given in the context or situation; otherwise, it is [–exhaustive]. Previous studies like Kiss (1988) and König (1991) have noted that clefts in English are [+exhaustive], on a par with restrictive particle “only” in English. To show the contrast between shi…de and shi in terms of the realization of contrastiveness and exhaustivity, we refer to examples from Paul and Whitman (2008) and Hole (2012), which are cited below.

(8)

From sentences in (8a) to (8d), Paul and Whitman (2008) concluded that bare shi illustrates the positional flexibility of focus, with any element to the right of shi be marked as the focus, hence an association with focus pattern (Jackendoff, 1972; Rooth, 1985, 1992). Note that shi has to immediately precede the focus phrase here. Zuotian xiawu ‘yesterday afternoon’ in (2) marked by the copula shi gives contrastive meaning only and lacks the exhaustive feature, which shows that bare shi focus construction cannot be canonical cleft constructions. Further evidence is given in (8a) and (8b), where we have the contrastive focus preceding the VP, and in (8c) and (8d), contrastive focus is inside the VP. The ungrammaticality of (8e) from Hole (2012) shows that shi cannot occur further to the right than at the left edge of the VP. Concluding from sentences in (8), the “bare shi focus construction” is not the canonical cleft construction of Chinese, as stated in Paul and Whitman (2008).

The above is made in contrary with the shi…de construction, which generally bears an exhaustive feature, and is presupposed to falsify all alternative sentences with nonentailed focus values, hence generally considered canonical clefts in Chinese. Such a claim of Paul and Whitman (2008) is further supported in Hole (2012), which argues that the canonical clefts in Chinese should be the “shi...de construction.” Examples from Hole (2012) are cited below.

(9)

(9a) is an example of shi…de construction given in Hole (2012), with its linear syntax diagrammed in (9b), which shows that canonical clefts in Chinese should involve shi…de, not bare shi, construction. Moreover, Chinese shi…de clefts are exhaustive. (10) and (11) are sentences taken from Paul and Whitman (2008). Moreover, based on (10) and (11) cited from Paul and Whitman (2008), Hole (2012) indicated the difference of shide and bare shi constructions in exhaustiveness.

(10)

(11)

(10) shows that shi…de is subject to the exclusiveness condition, while (11) shows that bare shi is not. Although it is clear that the shi…de construction basically involves no A′ movement, unlike English, it is not clear what kind of movement should be assumed to analyze clefts in Chinese and the positional requirements for clefted constituents, according to Hole (2012). Despite the contrast shown by sentences like (10) and (11), what can be concluded is that “bare shi focus construction” is distinct from shi…de construction, with the latter very different from cleft construction or pseudo-clefts in languages like English.

Apart from shi…de and bare shi construction, Cheng (2008) argues for a variant of the shi…de cleft—the bare de construction. Bare de construction has two patterns: (a) One marks broad focus, with the whole proposition in focus and no phonological prominence detected, and (b) the other marks narrow focus, as exemplified by phonological prominence, as exemplified below.

(12)

(13)

In (12), the de marks the whole proposition in focus, without perceptually salient prosodic marking, which is comparable to the English construction “it is the case that.” The question in (13a) elicits focus on its answer only, as indicated by the salient phonological prominence on Zhangsan in (13b), an in situ focus that typically requires phonological prominence.

One last type of focus construction that is related to the variants of the shi constructions is the verum focus stated in Hole (2012). It was mentioned that when preceding the VP, the copula shi can be stressed to express focus in Chinese, referred to as “verum focus,” as illustrated in (14).

(14)

Hole has further defined Mandarin verum foci as belonging to the same class as answers to canonical yes/no questions and to the special kind of tag question frequently found in Chinese. However, the question of interest is that when shi signals verum focus, it itself is no longer a focus particle associated with any specific phrase in the sentence. What is emphasized is the truth of the proposition, in contrast with the falsity of the proposition. Therefore, shi under verum foci should be differentiated from the shi…de construction, “bare shi focus construction” or even bare de construction, and considered a different type of focus marking involving shi.

Finally, one question raised at the very beginning is whether shi constructions can be considered cleft constructions. Recall what we have mentioned. Paul and Whitman (2008) argued that the constituent marked by the copula shi gives contrastive meaning only and lacks the exhaustive feature, which shows that bare shi focus construction cannot be canonical cleft constructions. However, Y. Liu (2017, 2023) proposed a unified analysis of sentence-initial shi (the bare shi construction), sentence-medial shi, broad focus shi, and shi…de constructions, which was based on two experiments. Building on empirical findings, Y. Liu (2023) proposed that different shi constructions share a common semantic feature, which is unique identification. With this core semantics, relevant shi constructions presupposed that there is one and only one true alternative in the preexhaustified focus alternative set and asserts that the prejacent of shi is true. Since bare shi and shi…de construction share the same core semantics as mentioned, Y. Liu (2023) argued that bare shi would be the default structure for Chinese clefts, and the formation of shi…de is the combination of a bare shi plus an additional de, with the relevant semantics derived compositionally.

Generalizing different constructions of shi, while it is widely acknowledged that they are focus constructions, semantic features of shi constructions vary from exhaustiveness to unique identification. Agreement regarding the three types of constructions—namely, bare shi focus construction, shi…de construction, and bare de constructions—is yet to be worked out, and the issue of whether shi constructions is Chinese clefts or not is yet subject to a common consensus.

2.2 Object Preposing in Chinese

Another kind of dominant syntactic reordering in Chinese is preposing objects. Although Chinese has a canonical order of SVO, object preposing is common, leading to an alternative word order SOV. Therefore, besides the default sentence-final position for focus in Chinese, preverbal position has also been argued to be a focus position. Ernst and Wang (1995) argue that when the object is preposed to a position between the subject and the verb, it occupies a special position for “focused” expressions, which is reminiscent of the typical focus structure in Hungarian that has received extensive attention. Consider (15), cited from Ernst and Wang (1995).

(15)

For sentences like (15a), the commonly adopted analysis is double topicalization (e.g., T. Lee, 1986; Lin, 1992; Tang, 1990; Xu & Langendoen, 1985), in which the object first adjoins to IP, producing the sentence in (15b). The subject wo may then subsequently topicalize across the object, giving (15a). Ernst and Wang (1995) argue against the double topicalization analysis and proposed that sentences like (15a) are derived by adjoining the object directly to VP. However, whether a preposing object should be considered as a topic or not remains debatable. While Ernst and Wang claim that the focus position is within VP, as a result of VP-adjunction not IP-adjunction, Shyu (1995) argues that a focus phrase takes a MP/AspP (modal phrase/aspect phrase) as its complement. In addition, Gasde (1998) allows two focus positions in Chinese sentences to distinguish different types of focus and to account for more related facts. Yet, Chinese is less syntacticized in focus marking, if compared to Hungarian, which formally utilizes a focus position, with all focused constituents syntactically moved to that position (Horvath, 1981/1986).

Moreover, it has also been argued that preposed object is not a focus as it conveys old and recoverable information rather than new and unrecoverable information. It is a topic, sometimes referred to as a subtopic in the literature to be distinguished from the sentence-initial topic. It therefore remains debatable whether preposing objects should be considered a topical focus or a contrastive focus, with both bearing a contrastive feature. Whether preposing objects should be considered a topic or not remains debatable, which is an issue calling for further research.

3. Previous Studies on Focus Particles

As mentioned, Chinese boasts quite a range of morphological markers and syntactic constructions for focus marking. Syntactic constructions include the shi-constructions and object preposing discussed in Section 2, while focus particles would mark the prominent morphological markers for focus in Chinese. It is customary to identify focus particles in two broad classes: restrictive particles and additive particles, and focus adverbs and particles of these two types can be found in both English and Chinese.

3.1 Restrictive Particles in English

To define “focus particles,” they are regarded either as a subclass of particles (see, e.g., Foolen, 1993; Helbig, 1988) or as a subclass of adverbs (see, e.g., Hoeksema & Zwarts, 1991; König, 1991). Two properties are considered to facilitate a definition of focus particles from other types of particles: their positional variability and their interaction with the focus-background partition of the sentences in which they occur (see König, 1991). The following are examples cited from König (1991, p. 10).

(16)

Different positions of “only” correlate with different locations of the sentence stress and different interpretations of the relevant sentence, and depending on their position and that of the nuclear tone, focus particles are related to different parts of a sentence (cited from König, 1991, p. 10). The focus structure of a sentence would result in a partitioning of the sentence into a focused part and a background part, which is generally assumed to be one aspect of its grammatical structure, with both giving a phonological and a semantic interpretation.

The interaction of focus particles with the focus-background structure is an important property of focus particles, and as pointed in Sudhoff (2010), focus particles establish a specific relation between the meaning of their domain and its relevant alternatives, where the particles’ domain is equated with the focus (see, e.g., Dimroth, 2004; Hajičová et al., 1998; König, 1991). Focus particles can be distinguished between their quantificational use and their scalar use (see Altmann, 1976; Bayer, 1996; Helbig, 1988; Jacobs, 1983; Sudhoff, 2010). According to Sudhoff (2010), quantificational focus particles quantify over the set of alternatives of the focus, as shown by nur ‘only’ and auch ‘also’ in (17a) and (17b), and scalar focus particles assign their domain an extreme position on a scale formed of its contextually relevant alternatives, as shown by sogar ‘even’ in (17c).

(17)

While (17a) says that Maja insulted Felix and that she did not insult any other contextually relevant person, (17b) says that Maja hugged Felix and that there is at least one proper alternative to Felix, who was hugged by Maja. Scalar focus particle “even” in (17c) characterizes Felix as an unlikely person for Maja to invite.

Moreover, the scope of a focus particle is characterized by König (1991) as “the semantic counterpart of that part of a sentence that is relevant for seeing out [the particle’s] contribution” (cited from König, 1991, p. 31). This would say that scope means the scope of the operator corresponding to the focus particle, which probably would be ∀ for restrictive quantifiers and ∃ for additive quantifiers. When focus particles are in their quantificational use, their quantificational structure is generally assumed to resemble that of adverbial quantifiers. Adverbial quantifiers and determiner/nominal determiners (“most,” “no,” “some,” etc.) differ drastically in how they find their restrictions. Adverbial quantifiers generally get their restriction through the mediation of focus, except for the cases like if-clause and when-clause, where syntax plays a more important role. In contrast, the quantificational structure of determiners is held to be shaped by syntactic structures, with the standard observation being that a determiner (D) has to be restricted by the predicate that is denoted by its internal argument, which corresponds to the accompanying NP in question. However, Herburger (2000) pointed out that sentences with “only” and “even” turn out to play an interesting role in the classification of adverbial quantification vis-à-vis determiner quantification. When they surface in an adverbial position (e.g., adjoined to a VP), they pattern semantically with adverbial quantifiers—their quantificational structure depends directly on focus. However, when “even” and “only” adjoin to noun phrases, instead of behaving like determiners and taking their surface-syntactic internal argument as their restriction, “only” and “even” have a quantificational structure that is shaped by focus. Herburger accounted for this by positing that, when they do not already surface in an adverbial position, “only” and “even” covertly rise to such a position (Q-raising). Focal mapping then straightforwardly accounts for their quantificational structure. Herburger distinguishes Q-raising from Quantifier-raising (QR), as the former only involves the movement of determiners to the clause-initial position and the latter, the movement of the whole determiner phrase, including the CNP in the phrase.

Hence, contrary to the standard view, Herburger argues that determiners sometimes pattern with “only” and “even.” They behave like adverbial quantifiers in the sense that CNP, which is their internal argument in the surface syntax, does not have to be interpreted as their restrictor; their restrictor and scope depend only on focus. Such a reading is referred to as the “focus-affected” reading by Herburger, which involves Q-raising, in particular, local raising of the determiner to a position that neutralizes the distinction between internal and external arguments. Subsequent focal mapping produces the right quantificational structure. The only difference between the focus-affected reading of determiners and the effects of focus on adverbial quantifiers and “only” and “even” lies in the kinds of things they are quantifying over. In the case of determiners, they are often individuals, though not all noun phrases can have such a focus-affected reading, and only those exhibiting the definiteness effect (DE) can.

Moreover, as mentioned, semantic focus is defined as focus that would affect the truth condition of a sentence, as the relevant truth condition would vary with the location of the focus. The interpretation of focus with the focus particle is generally termed “focus association” in Partee (1991, 1999), and these focus particles are generally regarded as focus-sensitive particles. Unlike additives in which focus association would not affect the truth condition of a sentence, restrictives would. Some examples are given as follows.

(18)

The truth condition of (18a) and (18b) differs, which is given by the association of “only” with different semantic foci—namely, Bill in (18a) and Sue in (18b). Assume that John introduced Bill and David to Sue, but he did not introduce Bill to someone other than Sue. Under such a scenario, only (18b) not (18a) will be true, as (18b) asserts that John introduced Bill to no other persons but Sue. Contrarily, assume that John introduced Bill to Mary and Sue, but he did not introduce people other than Bill to Sue. Under such a scenario, (18a) but not (18b) will be true, as (18a) asserts that John introduced no other persons but Bill to Sue. Based on examples like (17), previous studies like Jackendoff (1972), Rooth (1985, 1992, 1995), Bonomi and Casalegno (1993), Herburger (2000), Beaver and Clark (2003), Krifka (2006), and Sudhoff (2010) consider that the interpretation of adverbs like English “only” and German nur ‘only’ depends on the positions of semantic focus, which is lexically encoded in these adverbs, and refer to them as focus-functional or focus-sensitive adverbs. Adverbs like “only” are referred to as restrictives or exclusives in these analyses.

3.2 Additive Particles in English

Unlike restrictive particles, additives do not contribute to the truth value of the sentence containing them. Unlike “only,” semantics focus of additives would not affect the truth condition of sentences, as shown in the following.

(19)

The additive adverb “also” in (19a) and (19b) would trigger an existential presupposition of a set that consists of entities triggered by the semantic focus, with the semantic focus added to such a set. However, while the position of the focus may affect such a presupposition, the prejacent, which gives the assertion, remains the same for both sentences. Krifka (1999) has given the representation of additive particles as follows.

(20)

The additive particles in (19) expressed that “the predication holds for at least one alternative of the expression in focus” (see König, 1991, as well). With the prejacent asserted to be true, additives can be considered “presupposition triggers,” which presupposes the existence of at least one alternative of the focus that satisfies the complex predicate of the focus (see Hole, 2004, as well). A vast amount of previous literature on additives centers on English “too” (see, e.g., Kaplan, 1984; Rullmann, 2003; van der Sandt & Geurts, 2001; Winterstein & Zeevat, 2012) and the scalar additive “even” (see, e.g., Franscescotti, 1995; Giannakidou, 2007; Kalerikos, 1995; Kay, 1990; Rullmann, 1997; Wilkinson, 1996; Yoshimura, 2007). Stressed additives have also been an issue in the study of additives. As stated by Krifka (1999), while exclusive and scalar particles typically precede their focus, additive particles may follow it, in which case they are stressed. (21) is an example given in Krifka (1999).

(21)

This is also observed in German additive particles sogar and auch, but studies for the movement analysis for the associated element argued that under such a case, the associated element has the status of a contrastive topic, which enforces its movement to the left periphery, with the additive particle (e.g., German auch) to be stressed to become the focusable element in the focus domain (see, e.g., Krifka, 1999, Steube, 2003; Sudhoff, 2010; Sudhoff et al., 2004).

4. Focus Particles in Chinese

4.1 Restrictive Focus Particles in Chinese

After English, focus adverbs and particles in Chinese will be examined in this section. We will start with restrictive adverbs in Chinese. Mandarin relies on focus adverbs with prosodic stress and grammatical mechanisms for restrictive focus structuring. For restrictive adverbs, Chinese appeals to zhi(-you/-shi) ‘only(-have/be)’ to express restrictive meaning, through the adjunction of the exclusive adverb zhi ‘only’ to shi ‘be’, with exclusiveness conducted by a grammatical mechanism. Given their effects on the truth-conditional meaning of a sentence, they are also known as semantic focus particles. Chinese zhi behaves similarly to the counterpart of English “only,” a typical focus-sensitive operator.

Apart from these, widely recognized restrictive focus particles that do not perform restrictive focus marking through adjunction include jiu, cai, and dou, which are sensitive to focus and affect the truth condition of a sentence. Among these focus particles, jiu and cai are most controversial, with both translated as only in English. There is a list of publications on restrictive adverbs cai ‘only’ and jiu ‘only’, stressed and unstressed, but many questions have not been fully answered, with a unified and distinct analysis of the two yet to be worked out. To begin with, examples of jiu as a restrictive focus particle are given in (22).

(22)

Sentence (22a) conveys the meaning that Lisi only speaks German, but not any other languages, while (22b) means that Lisi only speaks German but does not read, listen, or write, under the assumption that the alternative set is triggered by the focus [speak]f, which may include {listen, read, speak, write}. The interpretation of focus with the focus particle jiu above is generally termed “focus association” in Partee (1991, 1999). Further discussions on the characteristics of this particle can be found in Biq (1984, 1988), Lai (1995, 1999), and Paris (1987). A close counterpart of jiu in Chinese is cai, also sharing the restrictive function, as exemplified in the following.

(23)

Cai and jiu are seemingly interchangeable in (23a) and (23b), with their restrictive function indicated by marking the asserted quantity to be less than expected. Although much research has been conducted on cai and jiu, there is no unified account regarding their semantics. Complications come from their polysemous nature, as gleaned from their four uses: (a) the temporal use indicating “immediate past” or “close to” meaning, (b) the parametric use, (c) the limiting or restrictive use, and (d) the emphatic use (see, e.g., Biq, 1984, 1988; Hole, 2004; Lai, 1995, 1999; Paris, 1987, as discussed in Hole, 2004). Various proposals have been made, including their being (a) focus particles marking exclusive focus (Biq, 1984) or denying-expectation focus (Biq, 1988), (b) connective elements with the discourse function to establish a relation between two units (Paris, 1987), and (c) as scalar particles (Lai, 1995, 1999).

Mandarin Chinese has another adverbial focus particle, dou ‘all’, which can be associated with a contrastive focus in both the topic and the comment. In this use, dou is just like English only, inducing an exclusive interpretation on the focused element, as exemplified in (24):

(24)

When in the topic, the contrastive focus only introduces an alternative set to serve as the domain of dou quantification, with no exclusive interpretation. When in the comment, the contrastive focus (as in (24)) serves to delimit the scope of quantification, so that the sentence excluding the focus functions as the domain and does induce an exclusive interpretation. For details, see Pan (2006) and Jiang and Pan (2013).

Lastly, there is one restrictive focus particle in Mandarin that does not act like cai ‘only’, jiu ‘only’, and dou ‘all’, which is Mandarin zhi ‘only’. The basic meaning of zhi is “restrictiveness/exclusiveness,” which represents its lexical meaning of excluding the alternatives that correspond to the focused element. Exclusiveness of zhi is performed through its adjunction to -you ‘have’ and -shi ‘be’, with -you expressing existential meaning and -shi assertive meaning. Relevant examples are given as follows (see, e.g., Huang, 1982, 1988; Paul & Whitman, 2008; D. X. Shi, 1994; Shyu, 2013; Tang, 1990; Teng, 1979).

(25)

Zhi ‘only’ in the above sentences gives a meaning of “only,” and the exclusive interpretation would depend on the verb to which it is attached. In (25a), shi ‘be’ is taken to be a focus particle, with shi treated as a verb (see, e.g., Huang, 1982, 1988; Paul & Whitman, 2008; Shyu, 2013; Tang, 1990; Teng, 1979) or a modal (see, e.g., D. X. Shi, 1994). While the assertive or focus meaning comes from the focus particle shi ‘be’, zhi ‘only’ gives its exclusive meaning through attaching to [shi [VP]]. On the other hand, -you in Mandarin generally takes its scope over NP, and with zhi attaching over -you, zhi takes scope over [you-NP], giving an interpretation of “only have two years,” as indicated in (25b). (25a) and (25b) show that zhi performs like a floating quantifier, with its interpretation counting on the constituent to which it is attached. The focus marking of zhi is again grammatically encoded, with the focus associate of zhi determined through its syntactic attachment to -you or -shi.

4.2 Additive Focus Particles in Chinese

For additive adverbs and particles in Chinese, we will start with the focus marked by lian…dou/ye, which is an additive focus construction that has drawn much attention in Chinese. Other additive adverbs in Chinese, including you ‘again’, ye ‘also’, hai ‘still’, and zai ‘again’, also are discussed in this section.

4.2.1 Focus Marked by lian...dou/ye Construction in Chinese

One widely discussed focus-marking construction is lian…dou/ye ‘even…all/also’, as exemplified in (26b). Structural focus involving overt focalization is found in sentences with lian… dou/ye ‘even… all/also’, which is argued to mark inclusive or additive focus. Topics in Chinese are represented through syntactic means, either at the sentence-initial position or the position between the subject and the verb, with the former generally considered topic and the latter subtopic. Under such an assumption, Xu and D. Q. Liu (1998) consider phrases marked by lian…dou to be a topical focus, though Chu (2003) thinks that they are contrastive topics.

(26)

(27)

It is sufficient to say that lian...dou invokes a [+contrastive] meaning (in the sense of the focus features in D. Q. Liu & Xu, 1998). Since the [+contrastive] feature is generally found in focus but not topic, Chu used (27) to further support the claim that topics can be contrastive, although further studies are needed to tease apart these two proposals. Note that there is a difference between a contrastive focus appearing in the topic and the one in the comment—namely, that a contrastive focus appearing in the topic part may be referred to as a contrastive topic, as in Chu (2003), while a contrastive focus appearing in the comment is still regarded as a contrastive focus.

Whether the phrase marked by lian…dou/ye is a topic or a focus has long been a controversial issue. However, between liandou and lianye, more controversies lie on the former, which involves the issue of focus sensitivity of dou. The dominant view in the literature is to assume that the scalar meaning is structural, and scalar dou is treated on par with distributive dou in the context of plural definites (cf. Portner, 2002; Shyu, 1995; Wu, 1999). Moreover, such an issue needs to step back to whether several dou’s must be distinguished or whether all dou’s can be related to a single core meaning. König (1991) referred to the dou in liandou as parametric dou. This dou sometimes can interchange freely with ye and, unlike the distributive, must not be stressed. L. P. Chen (2008) has given a more detailed analysis to lian…dou. She examined two issues of lian…dou—namely, dou/ye alternation and the optionality of lian. An example has been given as follows.

(28)

As stated in L. P. Chen (2008), with “John” as a singular NP, dou cannot be a distributive operator in the case of (28a). Under such a case, when the singular NP is focused, the combination of dou with the focus leads to a scalar reading, similar to English sentences with “even.”

(29)

In contrast to (28a), when the singular NP “John” is in focus, the dou in lian…dou can be replaced by ye, as in (29a), and a scalar reading will generally be taken to involve the lian…dou ‘even…all’ construction with a salient lian. When lian is overtly present, dou or ye has to be present, as in (29b), on par with mei-NP with the obligatory quantificational dou.

Generalizing examples in (26) to (29), it can be shown that the scalarity in the liandou/ye construction can be considered to come from two sources—namely, from dou and from lian. While the scalarity of lian can be considered inherent, as in the case of English even, the scalarity of dou comes from its presupposition that makes reference to the speaker’s expectation, according to L. P. Chen (2008). With lian, Chinese dou/ye is considered in the same contrast as English “even/also.” This is shown in an example in Rullmann (1997).

(30)

The existential presupposition of “also” would make the use of “also” in (30a) infelicitous, as this would lead to Claire being an associate professor in addition to being an assistant professor, which is contra to the academic profession in the actual world. The same result would be observed in Chinese dou and ye, meaning that while dou is acceptable in the same scenario as in (30), ye is not, as in (30b).

The contrast of dou and ye in (30) shows that scalar dou alone can trigger a scale between the NP in focus and its alternatives, independently of lian, while ye gives only existentiality, without any scalarity. Scalarity of the ye-sentence can be conveyed only under the presence of lian, with the lian…ye giving a scalar reading, as shown in the following.

(31)

Based on examples like (31), L. P. Chen (2008) argued that lian is the source of scalarity in the lian...ye construction, giving both scalarity and existentiality. This is in contrast with lian…dou, which can only give scalarity meaning, with and without lian.

Generalizing, the scalar reading in lian…dou/ye may come from either dou or lian, and the scalarity of the latter is inherent to its meaning much as scalarity is inherent to the meaning of English “even.” The question is if scalarity can solely come from dou, with lian optional, where does the scalarity of dou come from? L. P. Chen (2008) proposed that dou carries a higher-than-expectation presupposition, meaning that dou triggers a presupposition that the assertion exceeds, or at least meets, the speaker’s expectation about the core predication.

4.2.2 Other Additive Adverbs in Chinese: You ‘Again’, ye ‘Also’, hai ‘Still’, and zai ‘Again’

Mandarin has at least four additive adverbs—namely, you ‘again/too’, ye ‘also’, hai ‘still’, and zai ‘again’, which when translated into English, will appear as adverbs in a preverbal or sentence-final position (see, e.g., Ma, 1984, 2001; Shen, 2001; Shi, 2005; Yang, 1985; Zhang, 2003). Focusing on child language, H. J. Liu (2009) represented the first to conduct a unified account of the semantics of you ‘again/too’, ye ‘also’, and hai ‘still’ and categorized them into three groups—namely, the “too”-group, the “still”-group, and the “again”-group—in comparison with their English counterparts. It is claimed that interpretation of these additive adverbs is sensitive to stress, with stressed and unstressed forms triggering different focus structures. Each group of additive particles should therefore be further distinguished into three variants: (a) stressed additives, (b) additives with a following focus, and (c) additives with a preceding focus, with each triggering different tripartite structures. The sensitivity of you, ye, and hai to stress seems to suggest that Mandarin appeals to additive adverbs accompanied by lexical stress to express its additive focus meaning.

To begin with, it is assumed that ye ‘also’ belongs to the “too”-group of additives, shown in an example in H. J. Liu (2009).

(32)

(32) has the central stress put on yi-ben-shu ‘one-CL-book’, which is within the c-commanding domain of ye ‘also’, hence unstressed ye. The unstressed ye serves just like a focus particle, triggering the tripartite structure as given in (32). Under the assumption that ye in (32) is interpreted as belonging to “too”-group of additives, inclusion performed is simple inclusion with the relevant semantic representation taken to be (33), following König (1991).

(33)

(33) is cited from König (1991). (33) means that all sentences with simple additive particles (namely, ye in (32)) entail the corresponding sentence without particles (namely, Zhangsan mai-le yi-ben-shu ‘Zhangsan buy-PFV one-CL-book’) and presuppose that at least one of the alternative values satisfies the complex predicate represented by the α‎-expression (namely, the background part [Zhangsan bought x] in the tripartite structure).

Like the case of English “too” (see Kaplan, 1984), ye is subject to a “single-difference” constraint, which requires that (a) in case of a contrast between individuals, the contrasting individual to be added needs to share the same property, and (b) in case of a contrast between properties, the contrasting property to be added needs to belong to the same individual. Under such a case, the occurrence of ye is obligatory (see H. J. Liu, 2009), and its scope in fact resembles a c-commanding domain.

While ye ‘also’ belongs to the “too”-group of additives, hai ‘still’ belongs to the “still”-group, which is considered the counterparts of “still” in English or “noch” in German. As with other additive particles, hai does not contribute to the assertion part. Chao (1968) treats hai as an adverb with three different uses: adverb of time “still,” adverb of evaluation (the moderate sense in other literature), and adverb of degree, which can be “fairly” and “still more.” Following Chao, different analyses have been proposed, such as Lu (1980), Li and Thompson (1981), and Yeh (1998), which basically agreed on the following uses of hai.

(34)

(35)

(36)

(37)

(38)

Except for the moderate use, these uses are related to English “still,” “again,” “also,” and “even.” Based on the above uses, unified accounts have been proposed to capture the semantics of hai by recognizing its core meanings, with others taken as derived meanings. In line with this, two views have been taken. The first view is to take hai as a scalar operator. Michaelis (1993) suggested that the abstract notion of persistence is the core meaning of the various uses of “still,” which is taken to be a scalar operator compatible with scales on which time points or entities are ordered (see König, 1977), and a similar line of argument is also taken in Gao (2002), which analyzed hai as an adverb of continuance. The second view is to consider the additive function of hai as the core meaning, with hai as an additive adverb (see Min, 1997). The sense of temporal persistence is considered to be derived from adding up states of the same kind, and the repetitive use of hai is extended from the additive function by adding identical events, which leads to “repetition” (see, e.g., Van der Auwera, 1993; Yeh, 1998).

Relying on the scalar model of Fillmore et al. (1988), F. H. Liu (2000) suggested that all of the occurrences of hai ‘still’, including all the five meanings mentioned above, and a meaning of “counter to expectation” have a basic meaning: It is persistent and evokes a relation between two propositions to be evaluated in a scalar model. For the temporal use, hai relates two temporal points—namely, “now” and “just now”—and since hai also has the property of being persistent, hai is interpreted as “still.”

(39)

As mentioned, F. H. Liu (2000) considered hai to carry two basic meanings—namely, persistence and relating the text proposition and the context proposition—and tried to relate the temporal use of hai along this line. In (39), hai relates two temporal points, now and just now, and since hai also has the property of being persistent, hai is interpreted as “still.” The derivation of the “still” meaning can also be extended to the “again” meaning. Under the “again” meaning, hai relates two instances of the same activity, but as mentioned in previous studies, the repeated event is restricted to the future context. Therefore, (36) cannot be written as (40).

(40)

As seen, the basic meaning of hai ‘still’ is persistent, and it induces a relation between two propositions: a proposition understood from the background and a proposition asserted by the sentence containing hai. To account for other uses of hai, Liu F. H. argued that hai is a scalar adverb that associates with the stronger proposition marking a higher value on a scale, which can be provided within the predicate-scope of hai, be it given by a temporal reference, an ordinal reference, or a degree reference. The proposition asserted by the sentence containing hai makes a stronger proposition than another proposition in the context, with the former entailing the latter, which marks a lower value on the scale. As scalar particles are a subset of focus particles (see König, 1991), Liu F. H. considered hai as the scalar and additive type of focus particles, with its interpretation varying between whether hai is stressed or not stressed.

Along the line of F. H. Liu (2000), Shen (2001) further argues that hai ‘still’ is an increment adverb carrying an increment meaning, which he differentiated between “normal increment” and “metalinguistic increment,” depending on whether hai can be replaced by geng ‘(even)-more’ or can be stressed. For “normal increment,” as in (41), hai marks an increment meaning through addition, which is taken to be nonscalar. Under such a case, hai can be replaced by geng ‘(even) more’ and needs to be stressed. For “metalanguage increment,” hai marks an increment meaning in terms of degree of informativeness, as in (42). Under such a case, the meaning of hai is scalar and alike English “even” or “let alone,” with the scale to be identified in context or in discourse. Hai cannot be replaced by geng and cannot be stressed.

(41)

(42)

(41), which marks a normal increment, represents cases where hai is found in comparative construction in form of X COMP Y, with the exact increment possibly marked by a phrase-marking quantity or degree. (42) marks a metalanguage increment, and hai is found frequently co-occurring with the SFP ne. The hai…ne ‘still…SFP’ clause is considered the main clause, with the clause without hai…ne the contrastive clause given by the discourse or context. Hai in (42) associates with the stressed phrase to its left, making xiao-che ‘small-car’ in contrast with da-che ‘big-car’, with the scale to be the degree of informativeness. Encoding a higher degree of informativeness, the hai…ne clause would entail the clause without hai…ne.

In sum, although different uses have been proposed for hai, persistence (namely, “still”) and addition (namely, “even” or “also”) are generally considered the two basic meanings of hai. Analyses vary depending on whether they consider (a) persistence as the basic meaning, with addition derived; (b) addition as the basic meaning, with persistence derived; or (c) both persistence and addition as basic meanings.

Concluding from different uses of ye and hai, Hu and Pan (2007) proposed the semantic representation of ye as (43) and that of hai as (44).

(43)

(44)

(43) is in line with (33), cited from König (1991), with both emphasizing the existence of an entity. (44) is made in contrast with (43). Hu and Pan (2007) concluded that hai and ye differ in that while hai asserts the existence of a new membership relation by adding an entity to the presupposed set, ye only asserts the existence of an entity, denoted by the definite NP, by ascribing a property to it. However, apart from ye and hai, Mandarin has at least two more additive adverbs, including you ‘again/too’ and zai ‘again’, with subtle differences among the four additive adverbs. Previous analyses emphasize more on descriptive studies on individual additive adverbs or, in some studies, on a descriptive comparison among two or three additive adverbs. Except for the semantic representations of ye and hai proposed by Hu and Pan (2007), a detailed study on semantic representations of individual Chinese additive adverbs is lacking, which is an issue calling for further studies.

5. Concluding Remarks

Despite the phonological prominence or accenting in focus marking, Chinese shows a feature of syntactic prominence dominating over phonological prominence or accenting. With sentence-final position by default marked as the position of focus, phonological accentuation on that position has become optional. Without replying on phonological prominence, syntactic constructions and morphological markers are the two prominent ways Chinese used to mark focus. Syntactic constructions generally involve the morphosyntactic features of syntactic reordering, which has been recognized to be one way Chinese used to mark different types of focus, including informational, contrastive, and exhaustive focus. Typical syntactic constructions include variants of shi-constructions and object preposing. However, it is noted that when syntactic devices are employed to convey focus, evidence still abounds from well-controlled experiments that prosody is present even in well-known focus constructions.

Apart from syntactic constructions, morphological markers of focus have widely been recognized as the common way of focus markers in Chinese. It is customary to identify two broad classes of focus particles: additive particles and restrictive particles. If Chinese shows a feature of syntactic prominence, there are grounds to claim that additive and restrictive focus marking is performed in syntax through grammatical mechanisms or syntactic constructions, accompanied by prosodic stress in focus marking. Both additive and restrictive focus markers bear the feature of being polysemous, making unified accounts to individual markers remain controversial. Despite the fact that focus markers in Chinese tend to be polysemous in meaning, P. Lee (2019) pointed out that the linear order of constituents plays an important role in focus structuring in Mandarin, with discourse and prosody structurally interacting with word order or syntactic structures to determine focus structures in Chinese. Linearity and syntax represent the two major ways of focus marking in Chinese, unlike English and other European languages, in which intonation and phonological prominence represent the major way.

Discussion of the Literature

Focus markers in Chinese tend to be polysemous in meaning, making their semantics very complicated. The article covered extensively restrictive and additive adverbs in Chinese, with restrictive adverbs including cai, jiu, and dou and additive adverbs including lian…dou/ye ‘even…all/also’, you ‘again’, ye ‘also’, hai ‘still’, and zai ‘again’.

For restrictive adverbs, Chinese appeals to two major types. The first type expresses restrictive meaning through adjunction, with exclusiveness conducted by grammatical mechanism. Examples are zhi(-you/-shi) ‘only(-have/be)’ through the adjunction of the exclusive adverb zhi ‘only’ to -you ‘have’ and shi ‘be’. This type of restrictive adverbs is less complicated, as it tends to be less polysemous in meaning, and relevant meaning can be derived from grammatical meaning.

However, in Chinese, the more complicated type of restrictive focus particles includes those that do not perform restrictive focus marking through adjunction. Examples are jiu ‘only’, cai ‘only’, and dou ‘all’, which are sensitive to focus and affect the truth condition of a sentence. Among these focus particles, jiu and cai are most controversial, with both translated as only in English. Discussions on the characteristics of this particle can be found in Biq (1984, 1988), Lai (1995, 1999), Paris (1987), Hole (2004), and Zhang (2013). Although these studies have given a comprehensive description of different uses of cai and jiu, complications come from their polysemous nature, as gleaned from their four uses: (a) the temporal use indicating “immediate past” or “close to” meaning, (b) the parametric use, (c) the limiting or restrictive use, and (d) the emphatic use. There is no unified account regarding their semantics, with various proposals made, including their being (a) focus particles marking exclusive focus (Biq, 1984) or denying-expectation focus (Biq, 1988), (b) connective elements with the discourse function to establish a relation between two units (Paris, 1987), and (c) as scalar particles (Lai, 1995, 1999). This covers the occurrence of cai and jiu in simplex sentences, and how the four uses can be accounted for under one semantic representation of cai or jiu is yet to be worked out.

Moreover, a more complicated question is the occurrences of cai and jiu in complex sentences. Previous analyses consider a difference between a necessary and sufficient condition for cai and jiu when they occur in complex sentences. Cai is taken to be a necessary condition marker, a scalar particle, or a focus-background agreement marker that reflects negated existential quantification. However, marking the agreement of background with focus is not the semantics of cai, and neither marking the necessary condition nor rejecting expectation is a part of cai’s nuclear meaning in complex sentences. Moreover, if cai in complex sentences is a necessary condition marker, what is its semantic differences from zhi-you ‘only-have’/chufei ‘except-for’/bixu ‘should/must’, which seems to convey a meaning of necessary conditions as well? Are they unary operators, making them differ from cai? However, an interesting point here is that occurrences of zhi-you/chu-fei/bixu in subordinate clauses rely on the presence of cai in the main clause, but the reason leading to such a co-occurrence is yet to be found. Therefore, although previous analyses did give a comprehensive description of the meanings of cai and jiu, the underlying semantics of cai remains to be captured, particularly in what way the semantics of cai in simplex and biclausal sentences can be unified. The same issue also occurs in jiu, which is considered a sufficient condition marker when occurring in biclausal sentences. Therefore, one basic question is why cai is a necessary condition marker but jiu a sufficient condition marker, which is a question remaining to be resolved.

For additive adverbs, Hu and Pan (2007) have given semantic representations for ye ‘also’ or hai ‘also’ in order to compare the subtle differences between the two. However, a comprehensive analysis that is based on semantic representations of individual Chinese additive adverbs is still lacking. Moreover, it is claimed that interpretation of these additive adverbs is sensitive to stress, with stressed and unstressed forms triggering different focus structures. Therefore, an immediate question to be clarified is the semantic differences between stressed and unstressed additive adverbs, which calls for a semantic-prosodic study for additive adverbs and restrictive adverbs. Further research will need stronger acoustic cues to examine in more detail the role of prosodic stress in focus marking of Mandarin.

Finally, the article pointed out a claim made in P. Lee (2019)—namely, that the linear order of constituents also plays an important role in focus structuring in Mandarin, with discourse and prosody structurally interacting with word order or syntactic structures to determine focus structures in Chinese. Linearity and syntax represent the two major ways of focus marking in Chinese. P. Lee’s analysis focuses more on Cantonese, which is rich in focus adverbs and sentence-final particles, with natural co-occurrence of the two having no redundancy in meaning. While further study on the co-occurrence of focus adverbs and sentence-final particles is needed in Cantonese, as sentence-final particles may be less rich in Mandarin, more studies on the co-occurrence among focus adverbs in Mandarin are necessary to find out the basic semantics of focus adverbs and particles in Chinese. However, to give a complete picture of focus marking in Chinese, in-depth studies should also be conducted on other dialects in Chinese, particularly those with rich morphosyntactic configurations in focus marking.

Further Reading

  • Beaver, D. I., & Clark, B. Z. (2008). Sense and sensitivity: How focus determines meaning. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Büring, D. (2016). Intonation and meaning (Oxford surveys in semantics and pragmatics 3). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Gast, V., & van der Auwera, J. (2011). Scalar additive operators in the languages of Europe. Language, 87, 1–53.
  • Geurts, B., & van der Sandt, R. (2004). Interpreting focus. Theoretical Linguistics, 30, 1–44.
  • Giannakidou, A. (2007). The landscape of “even.” Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 25, 39–81.
  • Huang, S.-F. (1981). On the scope phenomena of Chinese quantifiers. Journal of Chinese Linguistics, 9(2), 226–243.
  • Jin, S.-D. (1996). An acoustic study of sentence stress in Mandarin Chinese [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. The Ohio State University.
  • Krifka, M. (2006). Association with focus phrases. In V. Molnár & S. Winkler (Eds.), The architecture of focus (pp. 105–136). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Lee, H.-T. T. (1991). Linearity as a scope principle for Chinese: The evidence from first language acquisition. In D. J. Napoli & J. A. Kegl (Eds.), Bridges between psychology and linguistics: A Swarthmore Festschrift for Lila Gleitman (pp. 183–206). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Molnár, V., & Winkler, S. (Eds.). (2006). Architecture of focus (Studies in generative grammar 82). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Rooth, M. (1999). Association with focus or association with presupposition? In P. Bosch & R. van der Sandt (Eds.), Focus (pp. 232–246). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sudhoff, S. (2010). Focus particles in German: Syntax, prosody, and information structure. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins.

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Notes

  • 1. Abbreviations used in this chapter include: CL: classifiers; EXP: experiential markers; PFV: perfective; and PROG: progressive markers. Foci are marked in boldface [ ]f in this article. Glossing abbreviations in general take reference to the Leipzig Glossing Rules, with additional abbreviations added to fit the purpose of the article. The Romanization system for Mandarin Chinese used in this article is Hanyu pinyin, and characters presented in Hanyu pinyin are italicized throughout the content part of the article.