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Nsyilxcen modality : semantic analysis of epistemic modality Menzies, Stacey


The aim of this thesis is to describe and analyze the modal system of Nsyilxcen, an Interior Salish language spoken in south central British Columbia and northern Washington State. In particular, it focuses on the epistemic modals mat and cmay, which express necessity and possibility with respect to certain bodies of knowledge. Similar to modals in St'át'imcets (Rullmann et al. 2008) and Gitksan (Peterson 2010) these modals lexically encode an epistemic modal base and an indirect inferential evidential restriction. I propose that these two modals can be distinguished based on their modal force distinction, where mat has variable modal force and cmay a strictly encoded existential modal force. Based on these generalizations, I propose a formal semantic analysis for the epistemic modals drawing from Kratzer (1977, 1981, 1991, 2012), Rullmann et al. (2008), Peterson (2010), and Deal (2011). The analysis defines each modal in a way that accounts for the strictly encoded modal base and evidential restriction, as well as the variable modal force for mat and the strictly encoded existential modal force for cmay. In addition to the epistemic modals mat and cmay this thesis documents the reportative modal kʷukʷ as well as how Nsyilxcen encodes non-epistemic modality. It looks at the bouletic modal cakʷ and how Nsyilxcen encodes a deontic, circumstantial, ability, and teleological modal base which makes use of the irrealis marker ks-, imperative markers -x and -ikʷ, or the basic predicate, depending on the addressee and the context. This thesis will discuss how the Nsyilxcen system fits into a preliminary modal typology based on the semantics of these modals.

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