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The syntax and semantics of clause-typing in Plains Cree Cook, Clare Elizabeth

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 anchoring). 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 subclassification 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 subclassification 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.

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