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Title: The syntax of polar questions and their answers in Taiwanese
Author: Wu, Meng-Jung
ISNI:       0000 0004 6056 8941
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis discusses positive and negative polarity questions and their answers in Taiwanese. Different types of questions and their answers are scrutinized, which include intonation questions, sentence final particle questions, sentence internal particle questions, disjunctive questions, and [A-not-A] questions. Chapter 1 introduces the aims and background of the study and the outline of thesis. Chapter 2 provides essential background information and theoretical assumptions, concerning, among other things, the semantics of questions, and asymmetries between affirmative and negative questions and answers, and terminology used in the thesis. Chapter 3 is a review of recent work on questions and answers, particularly Holmberg (2013a, b, 2016) on the distinction between polarity-based and truth-based answering systems and the syntax of English questions and answers. It is demonstrated how the syntactic structure of the answer is determined by the syntactic structure of the question, and how the position of negation in the question affects the form and meaning of the answer. This hypothesis is tested on Taiwanese in subsequent chapters. Chapters 4 to chapter 9 are focused on Taiwanese yes-no questions and their answers; the issues of negation, and modality are also discussed. Yes-no questions can be divided into two categories: presumptive and non-presumptive questions. Presumptive questions, which include intonation questions and sentence final particle questions will be discussed in chapter 5. Chapter 6 discusses tag questions and chapter 7 neutral questions. Chapter 8 examines disjunctive questions and chapter 9 A-not-A questions. These chapters demonstrate that Taiwanese has very consistent answering patterns. Predicate head answers, which are the answers consisting of just the head of the predicate of the question in positive or negative form, can be used to answer yes-no questions as well as disjunctive questions. The answer particles si a ‘yes’, m-si ‘no’, and the judgment verb/particle tioh a can be used to answer yes-no questions but not disjunctive questions. The judgement verb tioh a ‘correct’ can only be used to answer presumptive yes-no questions. It is shown that, unlike English, the position of the negation in the question does not affect the form and meaning of the answer in Taiwanese. Chapter 10 is a brief description of the question and answer patterns in Mandarin Chinese, focusing on questions with a final question particle ma. It is shown that the position iv of the negation in the question does affect the form and meaning of the answer in Mandarin Chinese, like English and unlike Taiwanese. In other respects, the answering system is the same in Mandarin and Taiwanese. Chapter 11 concludes. The importance of the study is to provide an explicit description of answering patterns used in response to all types of yes-no questions, disjunction questions, and [A-not-A] questions in Taiwanese, in a comparative perspective. The Taiwanese answer particles are shown to differ from their English counterparts, and in part their Mandarin counterparts, in the following way: The English answer particle no can disagree with a positive statement or positively biased question, and agree with a negative statement or negatively biased question. The Taiwanese answer particle m-si can only disagree with a positive, or a negative statement, or biased question. Correspondingly, the Taiwanese positive answer particles si a and tioh a can only agree with a positive or a negative statement or biased question. The relation between the different forms/uses of si is discussed: as a copula, a focus marker, and with the discourse marker a, as a positive answer particle. An explanation is provided why the negative answer particle m-si in Taiwanese always needs to co-occur with a full sentence. The explanation is based on an analysis of particle answers, even when consisting of a single word like si or yes, as derived from a full sentential source by ellipsis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available