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Topics in the Nez Perce verb
This dissertation investigates several topics in the morphology, syntax and semantics of the Nez Perce verb and verbal clause.^ The first part of the dissertation focuses on the morphological segmentation of the Nez Perce verb and on the semantic description of the verb and clause. Chapter 1 provides a grammar sketch. Chapter 2 discusses the morphology, syntax and semantics of verbal suffix complexes for tense, space, aspect and modality. Chapter 3 investigates the modal suffix o'qa, which is variously translated can, could (have), would (have), should, may, and must, and used to make circumstantial, deontic and counterfactual claims. I argue that this suffix has only a non-epistemic possibility meaning, and that apparent necessity meanings are artifacts of translation. Chapter 4 investigates the future suffix u', generally translated will. Based on evidence from truth-value judgment tasks, conjunctions of u' sentences describing incompatible states of affairs, and negation, I argue that u' sentences have non-modal truth conditions. I also discuss challenges to this analysis from free choice licensing and from certain acceptable conjunctions of incompatible u' sentences.^ The second part of the dissertation explores the syntax of the verb and clause as revealed by the system of case-marking. Nez Perce case follows a tripartite pattern, with no case on intransitive subjects, and both ergative and objective cases in transitive clauses. Transitive clauses may alternatively surface with no case, however. I show that caseless transitive clauses in Nez Perce come in two syntactically and semantically distinguished varieties. In one variety, the subject binds a possessor phrase within the object. Chapter 6 takes up this construction together with possessor raising, which I analyze as involving movement to a &thetas;-position. I argue that the absence of case under possessor-binding reflects an anaphor agreement effect. In the other variety of caseless clause, the object is a weak indefinite. Chapter 7 concludes that such objects are not full DPs. In chapter 8, I propose a morphological theory of case-marking which captures the cased/caseless distinction for transitive clauses. Both ergative and objective cases are analyzed as morphological results of the syntactic system of agreement.^
Language, Linguistics|Native American Studies
Amy Rose Deal,
"Topics in the Nez Perce verb"
(January 1, 2010).
Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst.