Why are there disjunctive particles in Sinhala & Dravidian relative-correlatives?: existential particles in nonexistential environments


Relative-correlative constructions in Dravidian and literary varieties of Sinhala use a quantifier particle as a ‘closing particle’ in the relative clause; such constructions often involve free choice interpretations. Unexpectedly, the quantifier particle involved is part of the disjunctive/existential group (used in forming disjunctions, indefinites, questions) rather than the additive/universal group, as opposed to the case in Hindi and other languages. I provide an analysis which treats these particles as variables over choice-functions carrying an anti-singleton presupposition, which accounts for their use in the formation of epistemic indefinites in Sinhala & Malayalam. In the case where such particles are internal to a relative clause, the quantificational force contributed by the relative pronoun produces a universally quantified environment out-scoping the existentially-bound choice function variables. This forms part of a larger effort to understand the nature of particles expressing what seem to be elementary logical operations (Szabolcsi, Slade, Mitrović &c.)

3 Aug 2017 2.30 PM — 2.55 PM
Hotel Contessa, San Antonio, Texas
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.