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Quantifiers in Kwak'wala Moewaki, Ayako


This thesis describes and analyzes the syntax and semantics of quantification in Kwak’wala, a Northern Wakashan language spoken on Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland of British Columbia. In standard accounts of quantification, quantifiers can be divided into two categories: strong quantifiers and weak quantifiers (Barwise and Cooper (1981), Keenan (1996), Milsark (1979), Partee (1988)). Taking the strong/weak distinction as a starting point, this thesis documents the syntactic and semantic features of Kwak’wala quantifiers, focusing on wi'la (‘all’), ḵ̓ina̱m (‘many’), and numerals, and examining their behavior at the syntax-semantics interface. In line with Milsark’s predictions, only the Kwak’wala equivalent of English weak quantifiers are allowed to stand as main predicates in sentences which are the equivalents of existential sentences in English. This thesis describes the distinction between strong and weak readings for the weak quantifier ḵ̓ina̱m (‘many’): there is no correlation between its positions and strong vs. weak interpretations, except in sentences which are the equivalent of existential sentences in English. The lack of a correlation between interpretation and DP-internal position is different from the prediction of standard accounts of quantification, by e.g. Partee (1988). This thesis also investigates quantifier scope. I show that Kwak’wala has collective, distributive, and cumulative readings. The presence of distributive and inverse distributive readings shows that this language possesses quantifiers which undergo real scopal interactions (unlike, for example, St'át'imcets as shown by Davis (2010)).

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