Advertisement

Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 213–269 | Cite as

Mood as Verbal Definiteness in a "Tenseless" Language

  • Mark Baker
  • Lisa Travis
Article

Abstract

This article argues that the mood morphemes found on punctual verbs in Mohawk are to be analyzed semantically as markers of verbal definiteness/specificity. In particular, the so-called future marker is an indefinite morpheme, indicating that the event argument of the verb undergoes Heim's (1982) rule of Quantifier Indexing. In contrast, the seeming past marker is a marker of definiteness/specificity, indicating that the event argument is immune to Quantifier Indexing. This explains many apparent peculiarities of the Mohawk verbal system, including: the use of "future" as a past habitual form, the use of mood prefixes in conditionals, free relatives, and complement clauses, and the incompatibility of "past" with negation. The relationship between indefinite mood and future events, where it exists, is explicated in terms of the branching theory of time proposed by Dowty (1979) and Kamp and Reyle (1993), which is grounded in a fundamental asymmetry in how humans conceive of the future versus the past.

Keywords

Relative Clause Matrix Clause Subordinate Clause Event Argument Existential Closure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Aubasch, D: 1994, ‘The Scope of Indefinites’, Natural Language Semantics 2, 83–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, Mark: 1996, The Polysynthesis Parameter, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Baker, Mark and Lisa Travis: 1996, ‘Events, States, and Mohawk Verb Inflection’, unpublished ms., McGill University.Google Scholar
  4. Carlson, Greg: 1977, Reference to Kinds in English, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
  5. Chafe, Wallace: 1967, Seneca Morphology and Dictionary, Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology, vol. 4, Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Press.Google Scholar
  6. Chafe, Wallace: 1970, A Semantically Based Sketch of Onondaga, Waverly Press, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  7. Chamorro, Adriana: 1992, On Free Word Order in Mohawk, M.A. thesis, McGill University.Google Scholar
  8. Chung, Sandra and Alan Timberlake: 1985, ‘Tense, Aspect, and Mood’, in T. Shopen (ed.), Language Typology and Syntactic Description, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 202–258.Google Scholar
  9. Comrie, Bernard: 1976, Aspect, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  10. Davidson, Donald: 1967, ‘The Logical Form of Action Sentences’, in N. Rescher (ed.), The Logic of Decision and Action, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, pp. 81–95.Google Scholar
  11. Deering, Nora and Helga Delisle: 1976, Mohawk: A Teaching Grammar, Thunderbird Press, Kahnawake, Quebec.Google Scholar
  12. Diesing, Molly: 1992, Indefinites, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  13. Dowty, David: 1979, Word Meaning and Montague Grammar, Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  14. Emonds, Joseph: 1985, A Unified Theory of Syntactic Categories, Foris, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  15. Evans, Nicholas: 1991, ‘A Draft Grammar of Mayali’, unpublished ms., University of Melbourne.Google Scholar
  16. Fodor, Jerold and Ivan Sag: 1982, ‘Referential and Quantificational Indefinites’, Linguistics and Philosophy 5, 355–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Foster, Michael: 1985, ‘The Language of Tense, Mood, and Aspect in Northern Iroquoian Descriptions’, International Journal of American Linguistics 51, 403–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Foster, Michael: 1986, ‘Updating the Terminology of Tense, Mood, and Aspect in Northern Iroquoian Descriptions’, International Journal of American Linguistics 52, 65–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heim, Irene: 1982, The Semantics of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases, Ph. D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
  20. Higginbotham, James: 1985, ‘On Semantics’, Linguistic Inquiry 16(4), 547–594.Google Scholar
  21. Kamp, Hans: 1981, ‘A Theory of Truth and Semantic Representation’, in J. Groenendijk, T. Janssen, and M. Stokhof (eds.) Formal Methods in the Study of Language, Mathematical Centre, Amsterdam, pp. 277–322.Google Scholar
  22. Kamp, Hans and Uwe Reyle: 1983, From Discourse to Logic, Kluwer, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  23. Kratzer, Angelika: 1989, ‘Stage Level and Individual Level Predicates’, unpublished ms., University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
  24. Lefebvre, Claire: to appear, ‘Multifunctionality and Variation among Grammars: The Case of Determiners in Haitian and in Fongbe’, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages.Google Scholar
  25. Lewis, David: 1975, ‘Adverbs of Quantification’, in E. Keenan (ed.), Formal Semantics of Natural Language, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 3–15.Google Scholar
  26. Lounsbury, Floyd: 1953, Oneida Verb Morphology, Yale University Press, New Haven.Google Scholar
  27. Ormston, Jennifer: 1993, Some Aspects of Mohawk: The System of Verbal Inflectional Categories, M.A. thesis, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec.Google Scholar
  28. Parsons, Terence: 1990, Events in the Semantics of English: A Study in Subatomic Semantics, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  29. Partee, Barbara: 1984, ‘Nominal and Temporal Anaphora’, Linguistics and Philosophy 7, 243–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Roberts, Craige: 1989, ‘Modal Subordination and Pronominal Anaphora in Discourse’, Linguistics and Philosophy 12, 683–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rothstein, Susan: 1995, ‘Adverbial Quantification over Events’, Natural Language Semantics 3(1), 1–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Scott, K. Shirley (ed.), 1991: Old Kahnawake, Kanie'kehaka Raotitiohkwa Press, Kahnawake, Quebec.Google Scholar
  33. Stowell, Timothy: 1982, ‘The Tense of Infinitives’, Linguistic Inquiry 13, 561–570.Google Scholar
  34. Stump, Gregory: 1992, ‘On the Theoretical Status of Position Class Restrictions on Inflectional Affixes’, Yearbook of Morphology 1991, 211–242.Google Scholar
  35. Travis, Lisa deMena: 1994, ‘Event Phrase and a Theory of Functional Categories’, in P. Koskinen (ed.), Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics, Canadian Linguistics Association, pp. 559–570.Google Scholar
  36. Travis, Lisa deMena: forthcoming, Inner Aspect, Kluwer, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  37. Ultan, Russell: 1978, ‘The Nature of Future Tenses’, in J. Greenberg (ed.), Universals of Human Language, Stanford University Press, Stanford, Cal., pp. 83–123.Google Scholar
  38. Watkins, Laurel J.: 1984, A Grammar of Kiowa, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.Google Scholar
  39. Whorf, Benjamin: 1956, Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin L. Whorf. John B. Carroll (ed.), MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  40. Williams, Marianne (ed.): 1976, Kanien‘kéha’ Okara'shó n:'a (Mohawk Stories), New York State Museum, Albany.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Baker
    • 1
  • Lisa Travis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations