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The semantics of determiners : domain restriction in Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh Gillon, Carrie Samantha

Abstract

In this thesis, I investigate the properties of determiners in Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh (Squamish) Salish. Determiners in Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh behave significantly differently from the definite determiner “the” in English. Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh lacks a definite/indefiniteness distinction; all DPs can be used in both familiar and novel contexts, and are not required to refer to a unique entity. Instead, Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh determiners are split along deictic/non-deictic lines. I argue that deictic features on the determiners have consequences for the grammar in terms of (i) scope and (ii) implicature of uniqueness. If a DP is deictic, (i) it can take wide scope and (ii) any sentence containing it will carry an implicature of uniqueness. If a DP is non-deictic, (i) it must take narrow scope and (ii) any sentence containing it does not carry an implicature of uniqueness. I claim that non-deictic DPs are composed via Restrict and deictic DPs via Specify (cf. Chung and Ladusaw 2004). There is therefore no correlation between more structure and wide scope, but rather a correlation between features and wide scope. Deictic features allow DPs to take wide scope; the lack of features prevents DPs from taking wide scope. Determiners in Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh are quite different from determiners in better-known languages. Do determiners share anything in common cross-linguistically? I argue that Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh determiners and English “the” are both associated with domain restriction (cf. von Fintel 1994). Both non-deictic and deictic DPs are sensitive to the context in which they are used; in familiar contexts, they (usually) refer to the set of entities under discussion. Non-deictic DPs, which in terms of scope behave like bare nouns, must differ from bare nouns in this respect. Bare nouns (in languages which use articles) cannot be used in familiar contexts. They can only introduce new discourse referents. Non-deictic DPs can introduce new discourse referents, but can also refer to previously introduced discourse referents, and can also be used partitively. Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh determiners must be associated with domain restriction, whereas bare nouns cannot be. I propose there is a strict correlation between the syntax and semantics: if a determiner occupies D, it has domain restriction in its representation.

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