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Control in Skwxwu7mesh Jacobs, Peter William


This dissertation is an examination of the phenomenon of control in Sḵwx̱wu7mesh (a.k.a the Squamish language). The notion of control has been part of the Salishan linguistic tradition for more than 30 years and it has been described as the ‘degree of control an agent has over an event’ (Thompson 1979). It has been described as having one of two values: in control or limited control. An agent who is in control, is understood to initiate an event on purpose, to have control over the process of the event and to bring the event to culmination. An agent who has limited control may unintentionally initiate an event, or have difficulty in the process of the event and thus only managed to bring the event to completion. In this dissertation I argue that control is properly understood as a construct. That is, it is not a part of the basic meaning of any one morpheme. Rather it is constructed from both real world knowledge about events and from the morphosyntax of the constructions that are used to encode these events. I argue that control constructions have an aspectual core meaning. A control predicate (or c-predicate) has event initiation as its core meaning. A limited control predicate (or lc-predicate) has event culmination as its core meaning (Ritter and Rosen 2000). They are telic. I argue that it is from these two meanings - event initiation and event culmination - that the other notions commonly associated with control are inferred (e.g. on purpose, accidentally, etc.). I propose a morpho-syntactic analysis for the core aspectual difference between the two types of predicates. In particular, I argue that they differ in the position of object agreement: object agreement of c-predicates is VP-internal, while object agreement of lc-predicates is associated with an aspectual node within the extended verbal projection. I explore the consequences of this proposal for the reconstruction of Proto-Salish in general, and for the historical development of Sḵwx̱wu7mesh in particular.

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