Linguistics Department Graduate Student Publication Series

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  • Publication
    Time and Evidence in the Graded Tense System of Mvskoke (Creek)
    (2022-01-01) Johnson, Kimberly C
    In recent years, much attention has been given to the puzzling relationship between tense and evidence type found in languages where a single morpheme appears to encode both reference to time and to the evidential source for the assertion. In natural language, tense has long been understood as serving to locate the time at which the proposition expressed by the sentence holds. The two main theories of evidentials both agree that these morphemes serve to identify the type of evidence the speaker has for their assertion. In languages with evidential-tense morphology, these two categories of meaning are intertwined in ways that are unexpected given our understanding of both phenomena. Specifically, these evidential-tense morphemes appear to encode reference to a time that is linked to the situation in which the speaker gains evidence for their assertion. Two competing approaches have emerged in the literature as to whether these evidential-tense morphemes make crucial reference to the time evidence was acquired (Lee 2013; Smirnova 2013) or to the time and place of the speaker with respect to the event (Faller 2004; Chung 2007). This paper examines the temporal and evidential properties of the Mvskoke (or Creek) graded past tense system and finds novel support for the view in which evidential-tenses encode Evidence Acquisition Time (EAT). Mvskoke is shown to have three evidential-tenses which form part of its graded tense system, comprising recent, middle, and distant past. The main proposal is a formalization of EAT as a moment of belief-state change, i.e., the moment the speaker comes to believe the proposition. It is shown that Mvskoke’s evidential-tenses are compatible with a range of evidence types, and this distribution is explained through interactions with viewpoint aspect.
  • Publication
    Suspended Affixation as Morpheme Ellipsis: Evidence from Ossetic Alternative Questions
    (2018-01-01) Erschler, David
    This paper provides novel evidence that ellipsis can target bound morphemes. The evidence comes from suspended affixation of case markers in alternative questions in Digor and Iron Ossetic. The current literature on alternative questions (e.g. Does Mary like coffee or tea?) proposes that in many languages they are derived by disjunction of and ellipsis in constituents as large as a vP or even as a CP. Language-specific evidence in favor of such structure of alternative questions is available for Ossetic as well. Accordingly, the ostensible disjuncts coffee or tea do not actually form a constituent and case must be separately assigned to each of the DPs. Therefore, a case suffix shared under suspended affixation cannot attach to the orP as a whole. A deletion-based analysis can successfully derive the properties of suspended affixation in Ossetic alternative questions. I advance a specific proposal that incorporates ellipsis into the Distributed Morphology derivation.