Locality, Self-Ascription, Discourse Prominence,

and Mandarin Reflexives

Haihua Pan, Ph.D.

The University of Texas at Austin, 1995

Supervisors: Manfred Krifka and Robert F. Simmons

 

Abstract

Mandarin reflexive ziji has challenged many syntacticians to probe for its properties and specifically its relationship to Binding Condition A (BCA), which dictates that an anaphor must be bound by a syntactically prominent (or c-commanding) noun phrase in a very local domain (Governing Category or GC). The basic strategy employed in most analyses is to try to show that BCA also applies to ziji, even though ziji apparently violates it by allowing long-distance binding. Based on textual search of large corpora on usages of ziji, benren, benshen, zishen, and their compound forms, this thesis claims that a semantic factor self-ascription and a discourse factor prominence play an essential role in the interpretation of Mandarin reflexives.

Following the spirit of Baker (1994) who makes a fundamental distinction between syntactic binding and discourse prominence, this thesis argues for the separation of contrastive and non-contrastive reflexives. While members of the former class (benren, benshen, zishen, contrastive ziji and their compound forms) are constrained by discourse prominence, members of the latter class (non-contrastive ziji and ta-ziji) are constrained by either locality or self-ascription. The thesis further argues that two usages of non-contrastive ziji should be recognized. While the first usage, including ta-ziji, is constrained by locality and compatibility conditions, the other usage is regulated by self-ascription; that is, the self-ascription ziji is a de se anaphor, borrowing Lewis' terminology, and thus it must be bound to the most prominent self-ascriber.

This thesis will also show that benren, benshen, zishen, and their compound forms, being inherently contrastive, differ from ziji and its compound forms in the contexts accessible to them; the latter can access linguistic contexts only, but the former can also access the situations of utterance and world knowledge.