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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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Acknowledgements Copyright © 2012 Northwest Journal of Linguistics ISSN 1718-8563