A compositional account of the apparent polysemy of Hindi ‘bhī’


Hindi possesses a number of focus-associated particles, including the (scalar-)additive particle bhī, which appears ambiguous between a plain additive and a scalar-additive reading. The scalar-additive reading often seems to involve a different prosody (differences in the realisation of the F0 excursion/low-star-high pitch accent, particularly the word-final F0 contour) on the focussed constituent. Rather than positing two homophonous focus-sensitive particles (one with an additional prosodic requirement), we analyse the special prosody as itself contributing a scalar ordering which composes with meaning of bhī using a continuation semantics analysis.

Preliminary phonetic analysis of Hindi shows clear indications of significant differences in the F0 contours of focussed element, particularly the Hp, i.e. the phrasal boundary tone, associated with scalar-additive bhī versus those associated with plain additive bhī, consistent with an analysis of a prosodic component with its own (compositional) semantic contribution. Further investigations will be carried out with a larger dataset to verify the details of the prosodic differences in the focus associates, including examining post-focal pitch-compression.

28 Mar 2021 12.00 AM — 12.30 AM
University of Minnesota
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.