Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Janet D. Fodor

Subject Categories



Mandarin Chinese, filler-gap dependencies, wh-movement, focus marker shi, active filler strategy, shared-syntax


This study investigates how speakers of Mandarin Chinese process filler-gap dependencies in potentially ambiguous fronted wh-questions. The study recruited native speakers of Mandarin with different degrees of English proficiency. In the experiment, participants were first presented with a wh-in-situ question and then a wh-ex-situ alteration of it that has the wh-phrase fronted to the beginning of the sentence. Participants were asked to judge and rate whether the two sentences could express a similar meaning or not. The results show that the movement of the wh-phrase zai nali (‘where’) is generally accepted by Mandarin speakers, despite Mandarin being a wh-in-situ language by default, and that this movement is licensed by the focus marker shi (which can be deleted at PF). It also hints that Mandarin speakers might be in favor of an active filler strategy that has been found cross-linguistically. The findings also suggest that language exposure (English) could affect one’s acceptability judgments under the assumption that there is in fact a shared syntax available to both languages.

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