South Asian relative-correlatives and unexpected particles

Abstract

Crosslinguistically many languages use morphemes from two series of particles — split roughly into additive/conjunctive/universal morphemes (Sinhala -t, Dravidian um, Japanese mo) and interrogative/disjunctive/existential morphemes (Sinhala *da, Dravidian , Japanese ka) — in a wide range of ‘quantificational’ contexts. [Cf. Kratzer & Shimoyama 2002; Szabolcsi 2010, 2015; Slade 2011; Mitrović 2014.] Relative-correlative constructions [RCC] in Dravidian and literary/classical varieties of Sinhala (as well as in Mangalore Saraswat Konkani and Dakkhini Urdu, cf. Hock 2016) use a quantifier particle as a ‘closing particle’ in the relative clause. Unexpectedly, the quantifier particle involved in these languages is part of the disjunctive/existential group, as opposed to the case in Nepali, where a member of the additive/universal group appears (as also in Burushaski, Basque, cf. Hock 2005). Thus the use of the particle da in classical/literary Sinhala relative clauses (which often have a free-choice flavour) like (1), Nepali pani in free choice constructions like (2) (cp. also Hindi bhī, cf. Dayal 1996). Since RCCs often have a free-choice interpretation the presence of particles associated with universal quantification like Nepali pani &c. is not unexpected, but the existential-associated particles of Sinhala and Dravidian RCCs are. I provide an analysis which treats existentially-associated particles (Sinhala da, Tamil/Malayalam ) as variables over choice-functions carrying an anti-singleton presupposition (cf. Alonso-Ovalle & Menéndez-Benito 2010), which accounts for their use in the formation of epistemic indefinites, and can be extended to explain their use in the formation of relative clauses.

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Madison, Wisconsin
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