Quantifier particle environments

Abstract

I examine the set of environments in which KA-type quantifier particles appear crosslinguistically. These environments include interrogatives, disjunctions, indefinites, all of which arguably involve elements with Hamblin-type ‘alternative’ semantic values. I show that if KA-particles are assigned a uniform denotation as variables over choice functions we can account for their appearance in what otherwise appears to be a set of heterogeneous environments. Crosslinguistic and diachronic variation in the distribution of Q-particles – including, in some cases, the appearance of multiple morphologically-distinct Q-particles in different contexts – can be handled largely in terms of differing formal morphosyntactic features and/or pragmatic components of specific KA-particles. This study focuses on tracking the evolution of KA-type particles in the history of Sinhala, with comparison to other languages of the Indian subcontinent (including Malayalam and Tamil) as well as to Japanese, Tlingit, and English.

Publication
Linguistic Variation
Date
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Benjamin Slade
Assistant Professor of Linguistics