Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 11, 2019

Ways of expressing counterfactual conditionals in Mandarin Chinese

Yan Jiang ORCID logo
From the journal Linguistics Vanguard

Abstract

This paper discusses the ways in which Mandarin Chinese expresses counterfactual conditionals, and endeavours to motivate and theorize the use of such strategies. I aim to give an overall picture of Mandarin Chinese counterfactual conditionals, a topic which has hitherto not been covered in the Chinese linguistic literature. The strategies identified are the use of special lexicalized chunks to directly encode counterfactual meaning; the creation of tense mismatch and the accompanying counterfactual meaning, either through the use of relative tense pointing toward a hypothetical past event, or through the use of some special time adverbs; and the use of pure inference over conditionals with impossible or absurd antecedents. Overlaying these strategies is the presence of context-dependent simplifications, which may prompt the language user to omit the defining features of a given strategy.

Acknowledgements

My thanks go to Dr. Mingya Liu for her great efforts in organizing the workshop on conditionals where this paper was presented in its initial form and for her work in editing this volume. Thanks also go to the two anonymous reviewers whose comments led to substantive revisions and improvements. Finally, great thanks go to Angela Terrill, the copy-editor, for her expert comments on the content and for her skilful work in improving on the English language.

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Received: 2018-05-25
Accepted: 2019-04-03
Published Online: 2019-07-11

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