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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Okanagan wh-questions Baptiste, Maxine Rose


This thesis is the first work devoted specifically to the syntax of wh-questions in a Southern Interior Salish language. As such, it provides a descriptive foundation for future work on the syntax of Okanagan, as well as forming the basis for comparative investigation of wh-questions both within the Southern Interior branch of the Salish family and between the Southern Interior and other better known branches. Chapter 2 examines the basic word order patterns for clauses and describes the distribution of determiners and complementizers in cleft constructions. Chapter 3 compares three potential analyses of wh-questions for Okanagan: a wh-in-situ analysis,, a wh-movement analysis, and a cleft analysis. I show that a wh-in-situ analysis was not viable for Okanagan on the basis of a comparison of word order possibilities in non-wh sentences and wh-questions. I then turned to the other two possible analyses, a wh-movement analysis along the lines of English, and a cleft analysis, as suggested for other Salish languages by Davis et al (1993) and Kroeber (1991, 1999). Choosing between these analyses proved much more difficult: evidence exists both for and against each analysis, and I was unable to choose between them. Chapter 4 examines multiple wh-questions in Okanagan. It appeared possible for at least some speakers to produce multiple wh-questions with either two argument wh-phrases or an argument and an adjunct wh-phrase. The latter type of multiple wh-question showed an interesting type of reverse superiority effect: speakers consistently preferred to place the argument wh-phrase in preverbal position and the adjunct wh-phrase in post-verbal position. If this really is a superiority effect, it implies that the relative structural positions of adjuncts and arguments are the opposite of those found in English. Chapter 5 investigates long-range wh-dependencies. First of all, I established that such dependencies are indeed possible. I show that long-range dependencies are sensitive to at least three standard island constraints: the Complex Noun Phrase Constraint, the Wh-Island Constraint and the Adjunct Island Constraint. Though I was unable to choose between a wh-movement and a wh-cleft analysis for wh-questions, my research unequivocally establishes the existence of A-bar movement dependencies in Okanagan. This is demonstrated by the existence of long-range movement assymetries as shown by superiority effects in multiple wh-questions and by the existence of adjunct island effects which argue strongly that there must be a configurational basis for the argument/adjunct distinction contra the Pronominal Argument Hypothesis (see Jelinek and Demers 1994 on Northern Straits Salish). Another important consequence of this work is the distinction between two types of focus structure in Okanagan. On the one hand, as in other Salish languages, a nominal predicate (including a wh-predicate based on the argument wh-words swit and stim') may occur with a relative clause introduced by the determiner i?; on the other hand both adjunct and argument DP's (including wh-adjuncts) may occur in cleft structures introduced by one of the complementizers ki?and ta?. Though this distinction corresponds in some ways to that between 'bare' and 'introduced' clefts in other Salish languages (see Kroeber 1999, pg. 370-373), the details of the introduced cleft construction in particular differ in significant ways from the rest of Salish. It remains to be seen how other Southern Interior languages behave in this respect.

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