In modern Chinese 就 jiù and 才 cái take on a quite complex relation: sometimes they appear to be synonymous and sometimes appear to be antonymous. The diverse interpreting of the two adverbial operators in contexts where quantifiers are involved is accounted for by treating them as focus markers on the one hand, and as operators expressing speaker’s subjective view of quantity on the other hand. It is argued that, as focus markers, the two of them exhibit ‘bidirectional’ properties, and it is suggested that their being synonymous or antonymous depends on their forward or backward semantic orientation. It is also pointed out that, by virtue of their semantic features, sentences with 才 cái are not ambiguous even without context, while sentences with 就 jiù can be ambiguous and the speaker’s subjective view of quantity uncertain.
Chinese language. Adverbs 就 jiù and 才 cái. Quantifiers.