Topics in Chemehuevi Morphosyntax: Lexical Categories, Predication and Causation
Committee ChairHarley, Heidi
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation is an application of the framework of Distributed Morphology to the morphosyntax of Chemehuevi, an endangered Southern Numic language of the Uto-Aztecan family. Following one of the central claims of DM, I argue that word formation in Chemehuevi happens in the syntax and provide evidence for this claim from the formation of lexical categories, as well as from the morphosyntax of the Chemehuevi causative verbs. I frame my discussion of lexical categories around the Root Hypothesis (Marantz 1997, Arad 2005), a notion that there are no underived nouns, verbs, or adjectives in the grammar, but roots that receive interpretation and assignment to a `part of speech' depending on their functional environment. I show that Chemehuevi nouns and verbs are formed when roots are incorporated into nominal or verbal functional heads, many of which are overtly represented in the language. I also demonstrate that there is no distinct class of adjectives in Chemehuevi, and that roots with adjectival meanings are derived into stative verbs or nominalizations, depending on their function.My discussion of predication in Chemehuevi centers around the previously unexplained distribution of the enclitic copula -uk, which under my analysis is viewed as an overt realization of a functional head Pred (based on Baker 2003), which is obligatory in the formation of nominal and adjectival, but not verbal predicates.Another major theme of the dissertation is the notion that word-formation from roots differs from word-formation from derived words, known as the Low vs. High Attachment Hypothesis (Marantz 2000, Travis 2000, etc.). This approach explains the differences between compositional and non-compositional word formation by the distance between the root and functional head(s) attached to it. On the basis of Chemehuevi causatives, I show that causative heads attached directly to the root derive words that exhibit morphophonological and semantic idiosyncrasies, such as allomorphy and availability of idiomatic meanings, while high attachment heads derive words that are fully compositional. This locality constraint on interpretation of roots is explained in terms of phase theory, and I present evidence from Chemehuevi showing that what constitutes a phase may be subject to parametric variation.Each chapter of the dissertation contains a section for non-linguistic audience where I provide a summary of the main points in non-theoretical terms and connect them to practical applications for the purposes of language learning and revitalization.