, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 33–63 | Cite as

A future modal in Cherokee: a special case of distributed exponence

  • Sylvia L. R. Schreiner
  • Megan Schildmier StoneEmail author


In this article we argue from distributional and semantic evidence that the affixal combination of ta- plus -i in Cherokee is a circumfixal marker of modality rather than a marker of future tense plus one of motion, as claimed in previous descriptive accounts. We then provide a morphosyntactic analysis within the Distributed Morphology framework, in which ta-/-i instantiates a (deontic) Modal head that has undergone Enrichment and subsequent Fission. Our analysis of ta-/-i as a modal opposes previous characterizations of ta-/-i as future tense, accounting for the various meanings yielded by these affixes and for the fact that ta-/-i can co-occur with other tense markers in the language. Furthermore, the Distributed Morphology analysis constitutes an important contribution to the literature on the phenomenon of distributed exponence and paves the way for future formal treatments of TAMM morphology in Cherokee and other Iroquoian languages.


Cherokee Modality Morphosyntax Distributed exponence Iroquoian Distributed Morphology 



Special thanks to Brad Montgomery-Anderson for help understanding crucial examples. Thanks also to Hiroto Uchihara and the audiences at ALC7 and the 2014 SSILA meeting for insightful discussion; to Ed Fields, for sharing his beautiful language; and to two anonymous Morphology reviewers for valuable feedback. Finally, thanks to Heidi Harley for useful discussion of some of the finer points of Distributed Morphology. We take sole responsibility for any remaining errors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvia L. R. Schreiner
    • 1
  • Megan Schildmier Stone
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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