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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 Distribution of the Conjunct Verb Form in Western Naskapi and Related Morphosyntactic Issues Add Dissertation
Author: Julie Brittain Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Memorial University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1999
Linguistic Subfield(s): Language Documentation; Morphology; Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Naskapi
Language Family(ies): Algonquian
Director(s): Philip Branigan
Marguerite Mackenzie

Abstract: This thesis examines the distribution of the Conjunct verb in Western Naskapi (and in other dialcets/Algonquian languages) using a Minimalist framework. Western Naskapi is spoken in the Northern Quebec community of Kawawachikamach. It is one of a number of dialects which constitute the Central Algonquian language referred to as the Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi (CMN) language complex.

The Conjunct is one of the two principal verb types attested in the CMN complex. This thesis examines the syntactic environments in which the Conjunct occurs: subordinate clauses, clauses (main and subordinate) containing a wh-question word, negated clauses, and main clause focus constructions.

The claim is made that wherever a CP projection is motivated in the phrase structure, a conjunct verb is required to raise to the head of that projection (C). The constructions that are the focus of this thesis are assumed to contain at least one CP projection, thus allowing the distribution of the Conjunct to be restated in terms of CP distribution. Two key pieces of evidence are offered to support this hypothesis: (i) conjunct verbs undergo a morpho-phonological process which takes place at C; (ii) conjunct verbs occur in contexts that are cross-linguistically associated with a CP projection. Wh-phrases raise overtly to the SpecCP of the clause in which they are base-generated. Thus, simple direct wh-questions are analyzed as uni-clausal constructions.

The thesis reassesses the status of the Algonquian Person/Gender hierarchy. The grammatical functions and thematic roles of the arguments of transitive verbs can be uniquely identified without appealing to the hierarchy. Raising constructions in both Western Naskapi and Cree are examined. Evidence is provided to support the view that the grammar of Algonquian makes a null expletive available. For Case-theory reasons the expletive is not available to raising constructions, thus allowing the subject requirements of the raising predicate to be met by raise-NP or raise-CP.

Equivalent data from a number of other CMN dialects (Plains Cree, Moose Cree, Swampy Cree, Woods Cree, East Cree, and Sheshatshu Innu-aimun) are considered in order to show that the analysis in this thesis applies to the CMN complex in general. Dialect differences are accounted for in terms of microparametric variation.