Chinese and counterfactual reasoning

Authored by: Yan Jiang

The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Applied Linguistics

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650732
eBook ISBN: 9781315625157
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter begins with a scrutiny of the notion “subjunctive conditional” together with an introduction to the distinction of “extrinsic” and “intrinsic” factors affecting the nature of logical operators. This is followed by a cursory overview of psychological and grammatical research on counterfactual expressions in Mandarin Chinese. It then sets out a list of tasks to be accomplished and explicates a recent proposal that Mandarin counterfactuals can be formally divided into “explicit” and “implicit” counterfactuals, which cross-cut the tripartite division of “truthifiers”, “falsifiers” and “counterpossibles”. It is suggested that this understanding can serve as a unified framework to describe Chinese counterfactuals and can also be used to accommodate some related optative expressions found in several dialects.

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