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Determiner systems and quantificational strategies: evidence from Salish Matthewson, Lisa


This dissertation has three main goals: 1. To provide an analysis of the syntax and semantics of Salish determiners and quantifiers. 2. To provide an account of differences in the determiner and quantification systems of Salish and English which reduces cross-linguistic variation to a minimum, in line with a restrictive theory of Universal Grammar. 3. To assess the theoretical consequences of the analysis of Salish, including implications for the range of possible cross-linguistic variation in determiner and quantification systems, and the nature of the relationship between syntactic structure and interpretation. I give evidence that one common method of expressing quantificational notions in English is absent in Salish. While English readily allows quantifiers to occupy the syntactic position of the determiner (as in every woman, most women), Salish languages do not allow such constructions (see also Jelinek 1995). I propose that Salish and English exemplify opposite settings of a Common Ground Parameter, which states that Salish determiners may not access the common ground of the discourse. This parameter accounts not only for the absence of quantificational determiners in Salish (since quantifiers presuppose existence, and therefore access the common ground), it also derives several other differences between Salish and English determiners, such as the absence of a definiteness distinction in Salish. I further demonstrate that Salish possesses a robust system of DP-internal quantification, and that quantificational DPs in Salish function as generalized quantifiers at logical form. This means that the strong hypothesis that languages do not differ with respect to the presence or absence of generalized quantifiers is upheld (cf. Barwise and Cooper 1981). Simple DPs in Salish, unlike in English, do not function as generalized quantifiers. This result follows from the Common Ground Parameter. I give further evidence from St'at'imcets (Lillooet Salish) on the strong/weak quantifier distinction; I argue that the interpretation of weak quantifiers is derivable directly from the overt syntactic position of the quantifier.

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