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Dissertation Information

Title: The Syntax and Semantics of Clause-Typing in Plains Cree Add Dissertation
Author: Clare Cook Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of British Columbia, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2008
Linguistic Subfield(s): Language Documentation; Morphology; Pragmatics; Semantics; Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Cree, Plains
Director(s): Lisa Matthewson
Rose-Marie Déchaine
Martina Wiltschko

Abstract: This thesis proposes that there are two kinds of clauses: indexical
clauses, which are evaluated with respect to the speech situation; and
anaphoric clauses, which are evaluated with respect to a contextually-given
(anaphoric) situation. Empirical motivation for this claim comes from the
clause-typing system of Plains Cree, an Algonquian language spoken on the
Canadian plains, which morpho-syntactically distinguishes between two types
of clauses traditionally called INDEPENDENT and CONJUNCT orders. In the
current analysis, the INDEPENDENT order instantiates indexical clauses, and
the CONJUNCT order instantiates anaphoric clauses.

After laying out the proposal (chapter 1) and establishing the morphosyntax
of Plains Cree CPs (chapter 2), the remaining chapters discuss the proposal
in detail.

Chapter 3 focusses on the syntax and semantics of indexical clauses (Plains
Cree's INDEPENDENT order). Syntactically, I show that there is an
anti-c-command and an anti-precedence condition on indexical clauses.
Semantically, I show that indexical clauses are always and only evaluated
with respect to the speech situation, including the speech time (temporal
anchoring), speech place (spatial anchoring), and speaker (referential

Chapter 4 focusses on the syntax and semantics of anaphoric clauses (Plains
Cree's CONJUNCT order). Syntactically, I show that anaphoric clauses must
always be either preceded or dominated by some other antecedent clause.
Semantically, I show that the value of temporal/spatial/referential
dependent elements within an anaphoric clause is determined by an antecedent.

Chapter 5 turns to the syntactic sub-classification of Plains Cree's
CONJUNCT (i.e., anaphoric) clauses. I propose that there are three classes:
chained clauses, adjunct clauses, and mediated argument clauses. I provide
two kinds of diagnostics that distinguish these classes, and explore the
consequences of this classification for argument clauses and complementation.

Finally, Chapter 6 proposes a semantic sub-classification of Plains Cree's
CONJUNCT (i.e., anaphoric) clauses. I propose that there is a direct
mapping between the morphology and the semantics: one complementizer
encodes presupposition of the proposition, the lack of a complementizer
encodes a-veridicality of the proposition, and one complementizer is
semantically unspecified (the elsewhere case). This means that Plains
Cree's clause-typing is fundamentally concerned with how the truth of the
proposition is represented.