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The Linguistic Review

Editor-in-Chief: Hulst, Harry

4 Issues per year

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ERIH category 2011: INT1



Neg-to-Q: The historical origin and development of question particles in Chinese

1University of Washington

Citation Information: The Linguistic Review. Volume 28, Issue 4, Pages 411–447, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: 10.1515/tlir.2011.012, November 2011

Publication History

Published Online:


This paper proposes a diachronic analysis of the grammaticalization of a marker of negation into a yes/no question particle in Chinese. I propose that the input to the reanalysis was a vP-neg-vP disjunctive question in which the second vP was projected by a negative auxiliary. Head movement of this auxiliary to the head of an immediately dominating disjunction phrase allowed the negator to enter into an Agree relation with interrogative C and check the [Q] feature there. In time, the negator acquired the [uQ] feature originally on the disjunction. This allowed the negator to subsequently be base merged in C and function as a Q particle.

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