While the syntax of wh-in-situ in Mandarin Chinese has been central to discussions of the linguistic theory of covert movement (Huang, 1982), little attention has been paid to the syntax and semantics of alternative questions in Mandarin. I argue that alternative-question-triggering disjunctions in Mandarin are interpreted in-situ at LF using a process of alternative computation, supported by evidence from island sensitivity and focus intervention effects. I offer a proposal for the different semantics of alternative-question-triggering disjunction and logical disjunction, in languages such as Mandarin which lexicalize this difference, and show that it can explain the distribution of question “force” in Mandarin clauses involving disjunction.
“Alternative questions through focus alternatives in Mandarin Chinese.”
Proceedings of the 48th Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society (CLS 48), pages 221–234.