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Volume 37, Issue 4 (Jul 1999)


Rejected expectations: the scalar particles cai and jiu in Mandarin Chinese

Huei-Ling Lai
  • Corresponding author
  • National Chengchi University.
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Published Online: 2008-02-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.37.4.625


This article investigates the four uses of the particles cai and jiu in Mandarin Chinese: the temporal, restrictive, conditional, and emphatic uses. The major claim is that the various uses of the particles are related by virtue of their common link to an abstract semantic structure. The analysis not only accounts for the semantic similarities of the different uses but also suggests that it is just the scales on which cai and jiu operate that result in the seemingly different meanings of the particles. It is argued that cai and jiu presuppose a change of state of the truth value of a proposition and that this change happens at a different point from where it is expected to happen. For cai, the asserted value of change is located “farther up” on the structure than the expected value, whereas for jiu, the asserted value of change is located “farther down.”

About the article

*Correspondence address: Department of English, National Chengchi University, Taipei 116, Taiwan.

Received: 1998-05-19

Revised: 1999-05-06

Published Online: 2008-02-20

Published in Print: 1999-07-01

Citation Information: Linguistics, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.37.4.625. Export Citation

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