Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2213-8706
  • E-ISSN: 2213-8714
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



The position of the reason-asking ‘why’ has been under much discussion for the past few years. Although some have suggested that it is situated within the CP domain, its exact position varies depending on different proposals. Meanwhile, a noncanonical -like ‘what’ has also attracted much attention. Some assume it to be merged to the top of a sentence while some assume it to be merged lower. In this study, new evidence is provided to show that in Chinese the reason-asking ‘why’ should be merged to the Int(errogative)P in the CP zone, confirming Rizzi’s (2001) and Tsai’s (2008) claims, whereas the -like ‘what’ should be merged as low as in P but target the topmost of a clause, supposedly ForceP, by covert movement.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aoun, J., & Y. -H. A. Li
    (1993) Syntax of Scope. MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Bromberger, S.
    (1992) On what we know we don’t know: Explanation, theory, linguistics, and how questions shape them. University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Chao, Y. -R.
    (1968) A grammar of spoken Chinese. University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Chung, J. -Y. Z. & W. -T. D. Tsai
    (2020) Fei dianxing yiwenci de jufa cengji he yuyong xiaoying – cong bijiao yufa kan kejiahua de “magai” [On the syntactic cartography and pragmatic effects of non-canonical wh-questions: A comparative study of “what” in Hakka], Zhongguo yuwen [Studies of the Chinese language] 2020(2), 201–220.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Endo, Y.
    (2015) Two ReasonPs: What are*(n’t) you coming to US for?InU. Shlonsky. (Ed.), Beyond functional sequences (pp.220–231). Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190210588.003.0012
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190210588.003.0012 [Google Scholar]
  6. Haegeman, L.
    (2006) Argument fronting in English, Romance CLLD and the left periphery. InR. Zanuttini, H. Campos, E. Herburger, & P. Portner. (Eds.), Negation, tense and clausal architecture: Cross-linguistic investigations (pp.27–52). Georgetown University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Huang, C. -T. J.
    (1982) Logical relation in Chinese and the theory of grammar. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.
  8. (1984) Phrase structure, lexical integrity, and Chinese compounds. Journal of Chinese teachers association, 19(2), 53–78.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. (1988) Wo pao de kuai and Chinese phrase structure. Language, 64, 274–311. 10.2307/415435
    https://doi.org/10.2307/415435 [Google Scholar]
  10. Ko, H.
    (2005) Syntax of why-in-situ: Merge into [Spec,CP] in the overt syntax. Natural language and linguistic theory, 23, 867–916. 10.1007/s11049‑004‑5923‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-004-5923-3 [Google Scholar]
  11. Koster, J.
    (1987) Domains and dynasty: the radical autonomy of syntax. Foris Publication. 10.1515/9783110808520
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110808520 [Google Scholar]
  12. Lasnik, H. and Mamoru, S.
    (1984) On the nature of proper government. Linguistic inquiry, 15, 235–289.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Li, Y. -H. A.
    (1985) Abstract case in Mandarin Chinese. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southern California.
  14. (1990) Order and constituency in Mandarin Chinese. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 10.1007/978‑94‑009‑1898‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-1898-6 [Google Scholar]
  15. Lin, J. -W.
    (1992) The syntax of zenmeyang ‘how’ and weishenme ‘why’ in Mandarin Chinese. Journal of east Asian linguistics, 1(3), 293–331. 10.1007/BF00130555
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00130555 [Google Scholar]
  16. Miyagawa, S.
    (2018) Agreement beyond phi. MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Obenauer, H.
    (2006) Special interrogatives–left periphery, wh-doubling, and (apparently) optional elements. InJ. Doetjes & P. Gonzalez. (Eds.), Romance language and linguistic theory 2004 (Current issues in linguistic theory 278) (pp.247–273). John Benjamins Publishing Company. 10.1075/cilt.278.12obe
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.278.12obe [Google Scholar]
  18. Ochi, M.
    (2004) How come and other adjunct wh-phrases: a cross-linguistic perspective. Language and linguistics, 5(1), 29–57.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Pan, V. J.
    (2014) Deriving special questions in Mandarin Chinese: a comparative study. InJ. -U. Park and I. -J. Lee. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th Seoul international conference on generative grammar (pp.349–368). The Korean Generative Grammar Circle.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. (2015) Mandarin peripheral construals at the syntax-discourse interface. The Linguistic review, 32(4), 819–868. 10.1515/tlr‑2015‑0005
    https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2015-0005 [Google Scholar]
  21. (2019) Architecture of the periphery in Chinese. Routledge. 10.4324/9781315158228
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315158228 [Google Scholar]
  22. Pesetsky, D.
    (2000) Phrasal movement and its kin. MIT Press. 10.7551/mitpress/5365.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/5365.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  23. Pylkkanen, L.
    (2002) Introducing arguments. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.
  24. Rizzi, L.
    (1990) Relativized minimality. MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. (1997) The fine structure of the left periphery. InL. Haegeman. (Ed.), Elements of grammar (pp.281–337). Kluwer Academic Publishers. 10.1007/978‑94‑011‑5420‑8_7
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-011-5420-8_7 [Google Scholar]
  26. (2001) On the position of “Int(errogative)” in the left periphery of the clause. InG. Cinque & G. Salvi. (Eds.), Current studies in Italian syntax: Essays offered to L. Renzi (pp.287–296). Elsevier.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. (2006) On the form of chains: criterial positions and ECP effects. InL. Cheng & N. Corver. (Eds.), Wh-movement: moving on (pp.97–133). MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Roberts, I.
    (2011) Head movement and the minimalist program. InC. Boeckx. (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of linguistic minimalism (pp.195–219). Oxford University Press
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Shao, J. -M.
    (1996) Xiandai hanyu yiwenju yanjiu [Studies on Chinese interrogative constructions]. Huadong Normal University Publisher.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Shao, J. -M. & X. -F. Zhao
    (1989) “Shenme” fei yiwen yongfa yanjiu [A study on the non-interrogative usages of “what”], Yuyan jiaoxue yu yanjiu [Language teaching and linguistic studies], 1, 26–40.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Shlonsky, U. & G. Soare
    (2011) Where’s ‘why’?Linguistic inquiry, 42, 651–669. 10.1162/LING_a_00064
    https://doi.org/10.1162/LING_a_00064 [Google Scholar]
  32. Soh, H. -L.
    (2005) Wh-in-situ in Mandarin Chinese. Linguistic inquiry, 36, 143–155. 10.1162/ling.2005.36.1.143
    https://doi.org/10.1162/ling.2005.36.1.143 [Google Scholar]
  33. Stepanov, A. & W. -T. D. Tsai
    (2008) Cartography and licensing of wh-adjuncts: a crosslinguistic perspective. Natural language and linguistic theory, 26(3), 589–638. 10.1007/s11049‑008‑9047‑z
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-008-9047-z [Google Scholar]
  34. Sybesma, R.
    (1999) The Mandarin VP (Studies in natural language and linguistic theory44). Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Szabolcsi, A. & F. Zwarts
    (1993) Weak islands and an algebraic semantics for scope taking. Natural language semantics, 1(3), 235–284. 10.1007/BF00263545
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00263545 [Google Scholar]
  36. Takita, K. and B. C. -Y. Yang
    (2014) On multiple wh-questions with ‘why’ in Japanese and Chinese. InM. Saito. (Ed.), Japanese syntax in comparative perspective (pp.206–227). Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945207.003.0008
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945207.003.0008 [Google Scholar]
  37. Tang, T. -C.
    (2000) Hanyu de xianding ziju yu feixiandian ziju [Finite and nonfinite clauses in Chinese], Language and linguistics, 1(1), 191–214.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Travis, L.
    (1984) Parameters and effects of word order variation, Ph.D. dissertation, MIT
  39. Tsai, W. -T. D.
    (1994) On nominal islands and LF extraction in Chinese. Natural language & linguistic theory, 12 (1), 121–175. 10.1007/BF00992747
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00992747 [Google Scholar]
  40. (2008) Left periphery and how-why alternations. Journal of east Asian linguistics, 17(2), 83–115. 10.1007/s10831‑008‑9021‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10831-008-9021-0 [Google Scholar]
  41. (2011) Cong ‘zhe hua cong he shuo qi’ shuo qi [Speaking from ‘where should I begin?’], Yuyanxue luncong [Essays on Linguistics], 43, 194–208.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. (2015a) On the topography of Chinese modals. InU. Shlonsky. (Ed.), Beyond functional sequence (pp.275–294). Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190210588.003.0015
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190210588.003.0015 [Google Scholar]
  43. (2015b) A tale of two peripheries: Evidence from Chinese adverbials, light verbs, applicatives and object fronting. InW. -T. D. Tsai. (Ed.), The cartography of Chinese syntax: The cartography of syntactic Structures11 (pp.1–32). Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. (2016) Lun Hanyu neiwai qingdongci de fenbu yu quanshi [On the distribution and interpretation of inner and outer light verbs in Chinese], Yuyan kexue [Language science], 15(4), 362–376.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. (2021) On applicative why-questions in Chinese. InGabriela Soare (Ed.), Why is ‘why’ unique? Its syntactic and semantic properties (pp.197–218). De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9783110675160‑007
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110675160-007 [Google Scholar]
  46. Wang, Chang-song
    (2017) Yunlü jufa jiaohu zuoyongxia de hanyu feidianxing yiwenci yanjiu – yi “V shenme(V)/(NP)” zhong de “shenme” weili. [A study on noncanonical wh particles from the syntax-prosody interface--a case study of shenme in ‘V shenme (V)/(NP)’ construction], Yunlü yufa yanjiu [Studies in Prosodic Grammar], 2(1), 73–100.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Yang, Yang & Wei-Tien Dylan Tsai
    (2019) Nianli yizhuan de yunlü yufa ji shiyan yanjiu [An experimental study of the prosodic syntax of force shift], Shijie Hanyu jiaoxue [Chinese teaching in the world], 33(1), 36–46.
    [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error