Volume 5, Issue 2 (2011) Pp. 1–60.
- Stalking the Adjective in St’át’imcets*
- by Henry Davis
- University of British Columbia
This paper investigates the lexical category ‘adjective’ in St’át’imcets (Lillooet
Salish). Strong syntactic evidence for the category is provided by argument
modification: only nouns and adjectives, but not verbs, may act as direct (nonclausal) prenominal modifiers. Since a distinction between nouns and nonnominal predicates has previously been established for St’át’imcets, the result is
a standard syntactic division between noun, verb, and adjective. This is only
partially reflected by the morphology: many derivational processes are sensitive
to adjectives, but the category has no inflectional reflexes. A comparison
between St’át’imcets and its Interior Salish relatives Thompson and Okanagan
shows that all three languages distinguish a category of adjectives, and that
argument modification differences between St’átimcets and the other two
languages exactly match parametric variation within Indo-European between
Germanic and Romance. The conclusion is that not only is the category adjective
widely instantiated in Interior Salish, but that its grammar reflects universal
properties of modification.
Keywords: St’át’imcets/Lillooet, Salish, syntax, adjectives, modification,lexical categories, relative clauses
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