DescriptionThis dissertation investigates the semantic properties of the particle dou in Chinese. The standard view of it is that it is a particle that accompanies plural noun phrases and has a semantics somewhat similar (not identical) to the floated all in English. In this dissertation, I will explore in some depth several phenomena where dou seems to play a role that goes beyond distributivity.
Chapter 1 introduces the standard view of dou as a distributive operator as proposed in Lin (1998) and the topics of the thesis. In so doing, the similarities and differences between dou and English all are highlighted.
Chapters 2 and 3 are devoted to two topics that are not covered in Lin's original work and that seem to pose problems for his analysis. Chapter 2 discusses what I call the dou-(dis)harmony phenomenon: dou's (in)compatibility with quantifier phrases. This challenges the standard semantics of dou in that all of the quantifier noun phrases, dou-compatible or not, are presumably plural and thus should be compatible with dou. In this chapter, I first argue that previous approaches that characterize the (dis)harmony effect in terms of categories of NPs are not correct. Then I claim that this has to do with a presupposition that accompanies dou. In particular, I argue that dou is has a presupposition about expectations and I propose to build this aspect of meaning into the semantics of dou. Chapter 3 investigates dou in a structure where plurality is not needed to license dou. Instead, focus is the crucial licensing factor. This is traditionally assumed to involve the lian...dou/ye 'dou/also' structure where it has a scalar reading similar to the meaning even has in English. Researchers disagree as to whether this dou should be assimilated to distributive dou or should be treated separately. Through careful investigations into some rarely addressed properties of dou in this structure, I conclude in favor of the ambiguity view of dou. In addition, I propose to link this dou to distributive dou through context sensitivity as I developed in chapter 2. Finally, I provide a compositional semantics for lian...dou/ye based on the semantics of each individual particle.
Chapter 4 extends the discussion to dou in free choice structures: dou co-occurring with renhe-NPs 'any' or wh-NPs yields a FC reading, similar to the corresponding English sentences with FC any. In this chapter, I explore the two FC structures from the perspective of English FC any and whatever on the one hand and from that of our prior discussions of dou on the other. We argue that renhe...dou is like universal any but wh...dou is neither like universal any nor definite whatever. It is suggested that dou in the two FC structures, renhe...dou and wh...dou, is related to distributive dou and scalar dou respectively, in support of our claim that there are two related but distinct dou's.
Chapter 5 closes this thesis and provides some initial exploration of the interactions between dou and bare NPs. Chinese bare NPs are, basically, like English bare plurals displaying various readings in various contexts. This chapter examines the behavior of bare NPs in various contexts from the perspective of the two-dou account developed in this dissertation. This investigation, though preliminary, provides further support for our claim that dou has a presupposition about the prior expectations on the part of the speaker and that the two dou's need to be separated.