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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."



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Dissertation Information


Title: The Semantics of Determiners: Domain restriction in Skwxwú7mesh Add Dissertation
Author: Carrie Gillon Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of British Columbia, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2006
Linguistic Subfield(s): Semantics;
Subject Language(s): Squamish
Director(s): Lisa Matthewson
Hotze Rullmann
Martina Wiltschko

Abstract: In this thesis, I investigate the properties of determiners in Skwxwú7mesh
(Squamish) Salish. Determiners in Skwxwú7mesh behave significantly
differently from the definite determiner the in English. Skwxwú7mesh lacks
a definite/indefiniteness distinction; all DPs can be used in both familiar
and novel contexts, and are not required to refer to a unique entity.
Instead, Skwxwú7mesh determiners are split along deictic/non-deictic lines.
I argue that deictic features on the determiners have consequences for the
grammar in terms of (i) scope and (ii) implicature of uniqueness. If a DP
is deictic, (i) it can take wide scope and (ii) any sentence containing it
will carry an implicature of uniqueness. If a DP is non-deictic, (i) it
must take narrow scope and (ii) any sentence containing it does not carry
an implicature of uniqueness. I claim that non-deictic DPs are composed via
Restrict and deictic DPs via Specify (cf. Chung and Ladusaw 2004). There is
therefore no correlation between more structure and wide scope, but rather
a correlation between features and wide scope. Deictic features allow DPs
to take wide scope; the lack of features prevents DPs from taking wide scope.

Determiners in Skwxwú7mesh are quite different from determiners in
better-known languages. Do determiners share anything in common
cross-linguistically? I argue that Skwxwú7mesh determiners and English the
are both associated with domain restriction (cf. von Fintel 1994). Both
non-deictic and deictic DPs are sensitive to the context in which they are
used; in familiar contexts, they (usually) refer to the set of entities
under discussion. Non-deictic DPs, which in terms of scope behave like bare
nouns, must differ from bare nouns in this respect. Bare nouns (in
languages which use articles) cannot be used in familiar contexts. They can
only introduce new discourse referents. Non-deictic DPs can introduce new
discourse referents, but can also refer to previously introduced discourse
referents, and can also be used partitively. Skwxwú7mesh determiners must
be associated with domain restriction, whereas bare nouns cannot be. I
propose there is a strict correlation between the syntax and semantics: if
a determiner occupies D, it has domain restriction in its representation.