Experimental evidence for the discourse potential of bare nouns in Mandarin
Jess Law, Kristen Syrett
April 2017

This study addresses the debate over the discourse status of bare nouns by presenting an experimental study of bare nouns in Mandarin. We compare pronominal anaphora with a bare noun to similar anaphora supported by a regular indefinite and ask to what extent bare nouns share the hallmark property of regular indefinites in supporting pronominal anaphora. We have found that bare nouns support pronominal anaphora, just like regular indefinites, but with increased processing effort. This finding is compatible with the view that bare nouns are 'translucent' in discourse (Farkas & de Swart 2003, Dayal 2011); that is, they are neither completely transparent nor completely opaque in discourse. Our conclusion invites investigations to pin down the cause of discourse translucency of bare nouns.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003812
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Proceedings of NELS47
keywords: bare nouns, discourse anaphora, mandarin, experimental studies, semantics
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