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LINGUIST List 23.4178

Sun Oct 07 2012

Diss: Algonquian/ Morphology/ Semantics/ Syntax/ Ojibwa/ Severn: Slavin: 'The Syntax and Semantics of Stem Composition in Ojicree'

Editor for this issue: Lili Xia <lxialinguistlist.org>

Date: 04-Oct-2012
From: Tanya Slavin <tanya.slavinmail.mcgill.ca>
Subject: The Syntax and Semantics of Stem Composition in Ojicree
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Institution: University of Toronto
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Tanya Slavin

Dissertation Title: The Syntax and Semantics of Stem Composition in Ojicree

Dissertation URL: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/32322/3/Slavin_Tanya_201203_PhD_thesis.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
                            Semantics
                            Syntax

Subject Language(s): Ojibwa, Severn (ojs)
Language Family(ies): Algonquian

Dissertation Director:
Elizabeth Cowper
Keren Rice
Diane Massam
Norvin Richards
Susana Bejar

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis explores the structure of the verb stem in Ojicree, a dialect
of Ojibwe. I argue that the surface complexity of the stem structure in
this language can be explained if we distinguish between two types of
roots: strong roots and weak roots. Strong roots combine with a verbal
head to build a full stem. I call these simple stems. Weak roots build a
more complex structure. Their combination with a verbal head is not
enough to build a complete verb stem and some additional material
needs to appear to the left of the root to form a full stem. I refer to
these stems as complex stems and to the requirement posed by the
weak roots the left edge requirement. In the traditional templatic view of
the Algonquian stem weak roots correspond to an element called 'pre-
final' or the lexical portion of the concrete final. Strong roots fall into the
traditional slot 'initial'. In the first part of the thesis I argue that weak
and strong roots build two fundamentally different structures. Complex
stems (build from weak roots) are dynamic syntactic constructs, while
simple stems (build from strong roots) need to be stored. I bring both
syntactic and phonological evidence for this distinction. In the second
part of the thesis I explore the nature of the left edge requirement in
complex stems, arguing that it is a semantic constraint that has to do
with event composition. Weak roots are semantically deficient
elements, and the left edge element fills a gap in their semantics and
completes event composition. The syntactic composition of the stem
reflects event composition. Finally, I extend the idea of the left edge
requirement to a certain type of noun incorporation construction. The
proposed analysis advances our understanding of the Ojicree
morphosyntax by moving away from the traditional templatic view of the
stem, situating it within the current syntactic framework of Minimalism
and proposing answers to some long standing questions from a new
perspective. More broadly, it furthers our understanding of how words
are formed in the Algonquian languages and in polysynthetic
languages in general.



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