Erlewine, Michael Yoshitaka, 2015. “In defense of Closeness: focus-sensitive adverb placement in Vietnamese and Mandarin Chinese.”
Manuscript, McGill University.

In this paper I show that focus-sensitive adverbs in Vietnamese and Mandarin Chinese are required to be as low as possible in their phase while c-commanding their focus associate. This generalization parallels what has been proposed under one approach to German focus-sensitive particles by Jacobs (1983, 1986) and Büring and Hartmann (2001) under the banner of “Closeness,” but these analyses have been controversial. This ‘‘as low as possible” behavior must result from the comparison of competing derivations, which I model using Optimality Theory. The fact that this requirement only holds within each phase shows that transderivational competition must be evaluated cyclically at each phase (Heck and Müller, 2001; Fanselow and Ćavar, 2001), and more generally offers a new kind of evidence for the idea of phase-based cyclic Spell Out (Chomsky, 2000, 2001).

In Vietnamese, I study the ‘only’ operator chỉ. Vietnamese has a morphologically rich inventory of focus-sensitive operators which makes it clear that chỉ is an adverb. In Mandarin Chinese, I study the focus marker shì and the ‘only’ operator zhǐyǒu/zhǐ. I argue that in the synchronic grammar of Mandarin, despite surface appearances, zhǐyǒu is an allomorph of zhǐ and that both shì and zhǐyǒu/zhǐ are adverbs.

I am no longer pursuing publication of this paper in this form. The Vietnamese portion of this paper, without the OT presentation, is in “Vietnamese focus particles and derivation by phase” in JEAL. See “Minimality and focus-sensitive adverb placement” in the Proceedings of NELS 45 for discussion of the OT formulation.