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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: States, changes of state, and the Monotonicity Hypothesis Add Dissertation
Author: Andrew Koontz-Garboden Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Stanford University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2007
Linguistic Subfield(s): Morphology; Semantics; Syntax; Typology;
Director(s): Peter Sells
Beth Levin
Cleo Condoravdi
Paul Kiparsky

Abstract: This dissertation examines the Monotonicity Hypothesis (MH), the widely
assumed, but rarely discussed idea that while word formation operations can
add decompositional operators to a word's lexical semantic representation,
they cannot remove them. Adopting modified versions of Dowty's (1979)
decompositional representations of states (e.g., red) and changes into
states (e.g., redden), I observe that the MH makes two strong falsifiable
predictions in this domain. First, words naming states should never be
derived from words naming changes of state, as this would involve the
deletion of a BECOME operator. Data from a number of languages are examined
and shown to bear out the prediction, with one apparent exception. Ulwa, an
endangered Misumalpan language, appears to have words naming states derived
from change of state denoting roots. Detailed examination of Ulwa verbal
and adjectival semantics and morphosyntax based on extensive primary
fieldwork shows that this is an illusion. Given the widely held view that
the semantic representation of inchoative verbs lacks the CAUSE operator
present in the representation of causative verbs, a second strong
prediction is that inchoatives should never be derived from causatives.
This is apparently falsified by anticausativization, in which an inchoative
verb is derived from a causative verb, e.g., Spanish romper `cause to
become broken' versus romper se `become broken'. Building on Chierchia
(2004), I argue instead for a reflexivization analysis of
anticausativization, showing that it captures a wide range of facts of the
phenomenon not accounted for by alternative approaches, most notably facts
showing that derived inchoatives retain the CAUSE operator of the
causatives from which they are derived. This analysis is consistent with
the MH, since it entails no deletion of decompositional operators. Finally,
I lay out several areas for future research. Formally, the relationship of
the MH to the Principle of Compositionality remains to be clarified.
Empirically, the MH makes many falsifiable predictions beyond the domain of
states and changes of state, which suggest areas for promising future
crosslinguistic investigation. Research of both kinds will shed further
light on the MH and more broadly on the semantic nature of word formation