Prominence and Locality in Grammar: The Syntax and Semantics of Wh-Questions and Reflexives, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Prominence and Locality in Grammar

The Syntax and Semantics of Wh-Questions and Reflexives, 1st Edition

By Jianhua Hu


192 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-06-06
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This book challenges the current consensus on the analysis of wh-questions and reflexives from the perspective of the syntax-semantics interface. An integrated approach incorporating analyses of the interaction between different levels of linguistic knowledge is proposed. It argues that the derivation and interpretation of wh-questions and reflexives are not purely syntactic in nature but are regulated by principles operating at the syntax-semantics interface. Two general principles underlying our knowledge of language and cognition are proposed in this work. One is the Principle of Locality, and the other is the Principle of Prominence. It shows that although wh-quantification and reflexivization belong to two different domains of study in generative grammar, their derivation and interpretation are basically constrained by the complex interaction between prominence and locality in grammar.

The first part of the book discusses how wh-questions are formed and interpreted in Chinese and English and shows that the formation and interpretation of wh-questions are constrained by the interaction between prominence and locality. It is shown that in wh-interpretation prominence is used to define the set generators so as to licence other wh-words in the pair-list reading in multiple wh-questions. It also discusses wh-island effects in English and Chinese, and unlike previous claims made in the literature (cf. Huang 1982a, 1982b), it argues that the so-called wh-island effects in English are also observed in Chinese.

The second part of the book investigates the role that prominence and locality play in reflexive binding. It is shown that in reflexive binding, the binding domain of the reflexive is defined by prominence. It proposes a unified account for both the noncontrastive compound reflexive and the bare reflexive in Chinese and shows that they are constrained by the same reflexive binding condition proposed in this work, though they employ different definitions of the most prominent NPs to determine their binding domains.

Prominence and Locality in Grammar: The Syntax and Semantics of Wh-Quesitons and Reflexives is an important theoretical contribution to the syntax-semantics interface studies and can serve as a valuable text for graduate students and scholars in the field of Chinese, linguistics, and cognitive science.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Part I: Wh-questions

2. The syntax and semantics of Wh-questions

Part II Reflexives

3. Prominence and locality in reflexive binding

4. Conclusion

About the Author

Jianhua Hu is Professor of Linguistics at the Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Chinese Linguistics

Routledge Studies in Chinese Linguistics is a state-of-the-art book series showcasing high quality research on the linguistics of the Chinese language. Titles in the series range from seminal classics to cutting edge studies in the field, and comprise both research monographs and edited volumes.

Contributions are welcomed from all areas of linguistic study applied to the Chinese language, including but not limited to phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse analysis, stylistics, sociolinguistics, language and communication, historical linguistics, dialectology, language acquisition, language pedagogy, corpus linguistics, bilingualism and Chinese for specific purposes, etc.

Published in English, titles in the series will be of great interest to postgraduate students and scholars in the fields of Chinese language and linguistics.

If you have a book proposal or idea in mind that might be suitable for the series, please contact the series editor Hongming Zhang of the University of Wisconsin-Madison ([email protected]). For more information on submitting a proposal to Routledge, please visit

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