The curious case of the negatively biased Mandarin belief verb "yiwei"
Lelia Glass
June 2022

(Please note that the title on LingBuzz is wrong, but I cannot change it! The new title is "The negatively biased Mandarin belief verb 'yiwei'".) ABSTRACT: The Mandarin belief verb YIWEI strongly suggests that the belief it embeds is wrong or questionable. Based on original data, I propose that this sense of negative bias stems from a postsupposition that the reported belief must not be accepted in the Common Ground following an update with YIWEI. When a belief is reported using a neutral, nonfactive verb such as RENWEI ‘think,’ it is possible for the content of that belief to become Common Ground if the belief or belief-holder are considered reliable; but the postsupposition of YIWEI explicitly blocks such an inference, giving rise to its negative bias. By heading off a potential inference, this postsupposition is further argued to serve a function common to other proposed postsuppositions in the literature. Zooming out, this investigation illuminates the complex calculations triggered by belief reports in discourse, and the linguistic resources used to guide them.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002600
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: accepted at Studia Linguistica
keywords: mandarin, chinese, belief verbs, negative bias, attitude verbs, factivity, postsupposition, lexical semantics, pragmatics
previous versions: v4 [April 2022]
v3 [January 2019]
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v1 [July 2015]
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