MULL-lab will be meeting this Tuesday, April 11th at 3:00 pm. Meetings take place in Rm. 002 of the McGill Linguistics department, with a Zoom room open for those unable to join in person.
This week, Yoann will be presenting a talk entitled: ‘On the syntactic reflexes of focus in Kalaallisut’. The abstract is below.
Focus in Kalaaallisut (Inuit-Yupik-Unangan) can be expressed via a cleft-like construction in which an enclitic demonstrative (=dem) surfaces on a sentence-initial focused element, while material to the right is presupposed (Fortescue 1984). We propose that (i) =dems are subjects of small clauses, and that (ii) focus triggers fronting to a clause initial Spec,FocP.
Viewing =dems not as focus markers per se, but as dems being part of a distinct syntactic construction seems to make correct predictions regarding several empirical patterns in Kalaallisut clefts. (1) Movement to a clause initial Spec,FocP gives rise to the Focus-dem-Presup. order; (2) SCs being devoid of case assigners, enclitic demonstratives surface in their unmarked abs form; (3) attested instances of feature mismatches between the focused constituent and =dem are expected, since they do not form a syntactic constituent.
In this presentation, I highlight basic morphosyntactic and semantic facts of cleft focus constructions in Kalaallisut, and consider how such an analysis could be extended to Baffin Inuktitut.
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