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Volume 7, Issue 3 (2013) Pp. 1–18.

The Multi-functionality of the Indefinite/Interrogative stab in Lushootseed
by Evangelia Daskalaki & David Beck

This paper examines the textual distribution of the Lushootseed stab ‘something/what?’, which functions both as an indefinite and an interrogative. That the same set of words can be used for both these functions holds in various genetically-unrelated languages, which raises the question of whether this is due to homonymy or monosemy/underspecification (see Bhat 2000, 2004; Haspelmath 1997, 2011). Our research on stab indicates that its various functions, rather than being part of its inherent semantics, are contextually derived. Specifically, it seems that stab is semantically equivalent to the ontological category ‘thing’ and its interrogative and various indefinite interpretations are added to this common semantic core by a range of contextual devices.

Keywords: Lushootseed, Salish, indefinite words, interrogative words

Article [PDF file] (584 Kb)

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Acknowledgements Copyright © 2014 Northwest Journal of Linguistics ISSN 1718-8563