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.

English in Computer-Mediated Communication: Variation, Representation, and Change, edited by Lauren M. Squires, Berlin: De Gruyter: 123–148.
Benjamin Slade
Assistant Professor of Linguistics