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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32322

Title: The Syntax and Semantics of Stem Composition in Ojicree
Authors: Slavin, Tanya
Advisor: Cowper, Elizabeth
Department: Linguistics
Keywords: morphosyntax
Issue Date: 26-Mar-2012
Abstract: This thesis explores the structure of the verb stem in Ojicree, a dialect of Ojibwe. I argue that the surface complexity of the stem structure in this language can be explained if we distinguish between two types of roots: strong roots and weak roots. Strong roots combine with a verbal head to build a full stem. I call these simple stems. Weak roots build a more complex structure. Their combination with a verbal head is not enough to build a complete verb stem and some additional material needs to appear to the left of the root to form a full stem. I refer to these stems as complex stems and to the requirement posed by the weak roots the left edge requirement. In the traditional templatic view of the Algonquian stem weak roots correspond to an element called ‘pre-final’ or the lexical portion of the concrete final. Strong roots fall into the traditional slot ‘initial’. In the first part of the thesis I argue that weak and strong roots build two fundamentally different structures. Complex stems (build from weak roots) are dynamic syntactic constructs, while simple stems (build from strong roots) need to be stored. I bring both syntactic and phonological evidence for this distinction. In the second part of the thesis I explore the nature of the left edge requirement in complex stems, arguing that it is a semantic constraint that has to do with event composition. Weak roots are semantically deficient elements, and the left edge element fills a gap in their semantics and completes event composition. The syntactic composition of the stem reflects event composition. Finally, I extend the idea of the left edge requirement to a certain type of noun incorporation construction. The proposed analysis advances our understanding of the Ojicree morphosyntax by moving away from the traditional templatic view of the stem, situating it within the current syntactic framework of Minimalism and proposing answers to some long standing questions from a new perspective. More broadly, it furthers our understanding of how words are formed in the Algonquian languages and in polysynthetic languages in general.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32322
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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