Sinhala epistemic indefinites with a certain 'je ne sais quoi'


This chapter focuses on the examination of the properties of epistemic indefinites in Sinhala, with comparison to other languages, including English and Hindi. In particular, attention is placed on the determination of the felicity conditions for the two morphologically- and pragmatically-distinct Sinhala epistemic indefinites: WH+ and WH+hari, with a concentration on the (un)availability of identification methods associated with particular epistemic indefinites. Also examined are English some NP and some NP or other, which likewise differ in their felicity conditions. The analysis of the Sinhala data is complicated by the appearance of the Q-particles and hari in other syntactic constructions (questions, disjunctions). The variety of morphosyntactic devices presented cross-linguistically (e.g. Q-particles, determiners, reduplication) raises the question of whether a unified semantic approach to epistemic indefinites is feasible.

Epistemic Indefinites: Exploring Modality Beyond the Verbal Domain, edited by Luis Alonso-Ovalle & Paula Menéndez-Benito, Oxford: Oxford University Press: 82-99
Benjamin Slade
Benjamin Slade
Associate Professor of Linguistics

My research interests include formal semantics and syntax, historical linguistics, South Asian and Caribbean languages, and the use of computational concepts in formal linguistics.