28 March 2012
Venue: Arts 1, DALSL meeting room (206-408)
Host: Peter Jacobs, Squamish Nation
Applied Language Studies and Linguistics seminar
In this talk I examine the phenomenon of control in Sḵwx̱wu7mesh (a.k.a the Squamish language). The notion of control has been part of the Salishan linguistic tradition for more than 30 years and it has been described as the ‘degree of control an agent has over an event’ (Thompson 1979). It has been described as having one of two values: in control or limited control. An agent who is in control, is understood to initiate an event on purpose, to have control over the process of the event and to bring the event to culmination. An agent who has limited control may unintentionally initiate an event, or have difficulty in the process of the event and thus only managed to bring the event to completion. I argue that control is properly understood as a construct. That is, it is not a part of the basic meaning of any one morpheme. Rather it is constructed from both real world knowledge about events and from the morphosyntax of the constructions that are used to encode these events.
I argue that control constructions have an aspectual core meaning. A control predicate (or c-predicate) only necessarily encodes. A limited control predicate (or lc-predicate) only necessarily encodes event culmination (Ritter and Rosen 2000). They are telic. I argue that it is from these two meanings - event initiation and event culmination - that the other notions commonly associated with control are inferred (e.g. on purpose, accidentally, etc.).