Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2213-8706
  • E-ISSN: 2213-8714
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In this article, I demonstrate how past time-reference, modality, negation, conditional, and the causal relationship between the protasis and the apodosis work together to generate counterfactuality in Chinese, syntactically. I study two syntactic means that can help construe counterfactuality in Chinese. First, I study the case of the specialized complementizer ‘if not for’ based on Ippolito and Su (2009) by arguing that the causal clausal relationship and the overt or covert modality are obligatory in counterfactual; in particular, I resort to the inherent negative entailment of the modal adverb ‘not until’ that satisfies the exhaustive operator to account for the needed negation in apodosis. Second, I propose that a hypothetical conditional clause with a past time-reference guarantees past counterfactuality in Chinese. I extend the morphological past-tense exclusion operator for counterfactuality (Iatridou 2000) to a more general and more pragmatic past time-reference to include tenseless languages like Chinese. I also show the special typological status of past tense and past counterfactual.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): complementizer; conditional; counterfactuality; modality; negation
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