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Article Dans Une Revue Languages Année : 2022

Time Reference in Mandarin Relative Clauses


In this paper, we investigate constraints on the time reference of embedded clauses in Mandarin. We show that while English past-tensed embedded clauses disallow later-than-matrix readings in intensional contexts on a de dicto construal, Mandarin relative clauses with bare predicates yield temporally free readings across the board. We argue that the contrast between the temporal interpretations of bare embedded clauses in Mandarin vs. past-tensed embedded clauses in English is not due to a putative contrast between `tenseless' languages (as Mandarin is traditionally assumed to be) and `tensed' languages such as English. Mandarin is indeed not tenseless, but rather has a covert Non-Future tense, restricting the reference time of bare sentences to non-future times. Moreover, Mandarin superficially tenseless embedded clauses with overt-be it perfect, perfective, durative/progressive-aspectual marking do not allow later-than-matrix readings on a de dicto construal, just like tensed embedded clauses in English. We conclude that the freedom of interpretation of bare embedded clauses in Mandarin cannot be imputed to null semantically underspecified tense, but rather to null semantically underspecified aspect. Our analysis provides, to our knowledge, the first arguments for Non-Future tense in embedded contexts.

Dates et versions

hal-03799816 , version 1 (06-10-2022)



Hongyuan Sun, Hamida Demirdache. Time Reference in Mandarin Relative Clauses. Languages, 2022, 7 (3), ⟨10.3390/languages7030170⟩. ⟨hal-03799816⟩
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