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UBC Theses and Dissertations

kâ-yôskâtahk ôma nêhiyawêwin : the representation of intentionality in Plains Cree Mühlbauer, Jeffrey Thomas


This thesis considers the reference system of Plains Cree, an Algonquian language spoken in Canada. I argue that the referential system of this language can be understood as coding distinctions in extentionality; it distinguishes between referents that possess perspectives (‘intentional’) and referents that do not (‘extentional’). With respect to perspectival possession, Plains Cree distinguishes four referential classes: (i) inherently extentional “Inanimate” referents, (ii) contextually extentional “Obviative” referents, (iii) contextually intentional “Proximate” referents, and (iv) unspecified “Animate” referents. I then show that the referential class “Obviative” is decompositional; it is constructed out of components that code referential dependency, which is the confluence of structural ordering and perspectival embedding. Finally, I consider the methodological issues raised by the study of referential types, showing how different data-collection methods interact with the semantics of perspectival possession.

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