Exclusivity, contingency, exceptionality and (un)desirability: A corpus-based study of Chinese chufei ('unless') in spoken and written discourse

Yu Fang Wang*, Jyun gwang Chen, David Treanor, Hsun Ming Hsu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigates Mandarin Chinese chufei ('only if' or 'unless') constructions in both spoken and written discourse. The results show that most chufei instances fall into the type q, chufei p in the spoken data, whereas the written data indicate the most common pattern to be chufei p, fouze ('otherwise') ~ q. In the data, chufei can be viewed as a kind of predictive conditional, which predicts that if a desired action is/is not carried out or a desired condition is/is not fulfilled, the desired/undesired consequence would occur. In particular, chufei clauses have a recapitulative function in that they summarize what has come before. We demonstrate that speakers/writers express a particular stance of desirability versus undesirability toward a particular event through chufei constructions, based on their subjective evaluation of reality. As a marker of hypotheticality, chufei constructions are used to perform several discourse-pragmatic functions such as suggesting possibilities, giving supplementary information for emphasis or clarification, and conveying effects in expressing attitudes and opinions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-59
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage and Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul


  • (Un)desirability
  • Contingency
  • Exceptionality
  • Exclusivity
  • Predictive conditional

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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