Research Seminar: Joash Gambarage

Joash Gambarage will present a research seminar on Belief-of-Existence Ds: How are they different from other existence Ds?.


Abstract: In natural languages, the D(eterminer) position can be a locus for: (i) deictic force (Gillon 2006), (ii) definiteness (Heim 1988), (iii) specificity (Enç 1991), (iv) encoding existence (Matthewson 1998) or none of the above. Using data from Nata (Eastern Bantu, E45), I argue that (i–iii) are not stipulations for the Nata D (a.k.a augment or pre-prefix). I argue that D choice in Nata is based on speaker’s belief of existence; the notion that Ds are used to convey existence of entities surmised to exist, or are a future possibility or are in possible worlds. Typologically, Nata shares the semantic space with the Assertion-of-existence Ds in Lillooet (a.k.a St’át’imcets)–Salish. Despite the many parallels, the two D systems appear to slice up their semantic pie slightly differently. In Lillooet, existence is asserted based on speaker’s personal knowledge (cf. Matthewson 1998) while in Nata this requirement is lacking. The implications of this study is that the Nata D cannot be reduced to the features in (i-iii). Furthermore, while Bantuists have claimed that augments are semantically unpredictable, I report that Nata Ds can be learned in a principled manner. This contributes to our understanding of Universal Grammar. Theoretically, the analysis is couched within the Choice Function account (Reinhart 1997; Matthewson 1998; Kratzer 1998).


*Note: This event is eligible for LOC credit. That said, we remind students to please treat this event respectfully: please attend only if you are able to be present for the entire presentation and discussion (within the posted time limits, i.e. arriving by 12:30 and staying until 1:30), and understand that this is a high-level, research-oriented session. The topic and discussion may not be entirely accessible to those without a fair bit of linguistic training.