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Predication and equation in Okanagan Salish : the syntax and semantics of determiner phrases Lyon, John


This dissertation investigates the syntax and semantics of equative structures (i.e. DP-DP structures and clefts) in the little studied and highly endangered Upper Nicola dialect of Okanagan Salish (a.k.a. Nsyílxcən), and represents the first detailed investigation of equatives in a Salish language. From the theoretical perspective, Okanagan is noteworthy since there is no evidence for a predicational copula (contra Baker 2003, Adger & Ramchand 2003) while there is evidence for a null equative copula (Heycock & Kroch 1999), thereby supporting theories which argue for a structural distinction between predication and equation. Okanagan does not have an overt copula (A. Mattina 2001), yet does have sentences consisting only of two determiner phrases (DPs) (''DP-DP structures''). These exhibit a word order restriction which is absent from predications involving other syntactic categories, such that in answer to a WH-question, a directly referential demonstrative or proper name must precede a DP headed by the determiner iʔ (an ''iʔ DP''). The implication is that specificational sentences (Higgins 1973) are not possible in Okanagan. Given that iʔ DPs permit intensional readings, and that iʔ DPs never denote sets (Longobardi 1994, Matthewson 1998), I claim that the Okanagan equative head maps the intension of an individual to its extension, and is of type <<s,e>,<e,t>> (Romero 2005, Comorovski 2007). Since there are no specificational sentences in Okanagan, and the equivalent of Higgins' identificational sentence class (e.g. 'That is John' in English) pattern with copula-less, direct predications in Okanagan, the data support reducing Higgins' taxonomy to only two types for Okanagan: predicational and equative (Heller 2005). I claim that Okanagan clefts are also equative structures, based on evidence that clefts consist of two DPs and carry an implicature of exhaustivity (Davis et. al. 2004). This implicature stems from the maximality implicature carried by the determiner iʔ which introduces the second DP (i.e. the residue). My analysis runs parallel to theories of English clefts which align cleft semantics to the semantics of determiners (Percus 1997, Hedberg 2000).

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