Quantificational Pronouns in Uyghur

Coffee, Jonathan Jasper. “Quantificational Pronouns in Uyghur.” PhD diss., University of Kansas, 2013. [Link] [PDF]


This thesis examines the syntactic distribution and semantic function of four series of indefinite quantifier pronouns in Uyghur: i) the universal or her-series, ii) the negative indefinite or héchseries, iii) the indefinite bir-series, iv) the indefinite birer-series.

Sections, 3, 4, and 5, provide brief background information on Uyghur including phonology, orthography, properties of noun phrases, general syntactic properties, and QUESTION formation. Sections 6 and 7 constitute the main focus of this thesis. In section ‎ 0, the syntactic distributions of each of these four series are discussed at length. All four of the series of pronouns may occur in various argument positions and may scramble in the same manner of other DPs in the language.

The stems of her-series, héch-series, and bir-series may be composed of either wh- items or generic ontological nouns. Even though they may be composed of wh- items, the pronouns do not carry interrogative interpretation. The stems of the birer-series may only be generic ontological nouns. With respect to polarity, the universal her-series and the negative indefinite héch-series are polarity sensitive while the indefinite bir series and birer-series are not. The universal her-series may not occur in the same clause as negation, while the negative indefinite héch-series must obligatorily occur in the same clause as verbal negation. No such restriction exists for the indefinite bir series and birer-series.

Section 7 uses Haspelmath’s (1997) approach to semantic properties of indefinite pronouns to explore the semantic differences between the four series of pronouns as they are used as iv indefinite pronouns in Uyghur. Haspelmath proposes a set of nine semantic functions that indefinite pronouns serve cross-linguistically: SPECIFIC KNOWN, SPECIFIC UNKNOWN, IRREALIS, QUESTIONS, CONDITIONALS, INDIRECT NEGATION, DIRECT NEGATION, COMPARATIVES, and FREE CHOICE. In Uyghur, the universal her-series may function in COMPARATIVE and FREE CHOICE contexts. The negative indefinite héch-series may function in only the DIRECT NEGATION contexts. The bir-series indefinite pronouns may serve in SPECIFIC KNOWN, SPECIFIC UNKNOWN, IRREALIS, QUESTION, and CONDITIONAL contexts. Finally, the birer-series indefinite pronouns may serve in SPECIFIC UNKNOWN, IRREALIS, QUESTION, CONDITIONAL, and INDIRECT NEGATION contexts.

This thesis expands on previous descriptive accounts of Uyghur pronouns and incorporates new data. This thesis provides an in-depth analysis of the semantic meanings of these four series of pronouns in Uyghur using the semantic map theory outlined by Haspelmath (1997). Organizing the data in terms of its semantic meaning serves to further our understanding of Uyghur as a whole. By examining Uyghur indefinite pronouns in this manner, the goal of this thesis is to expand our understanding of Uyghur as a whole, improve our understanding of the semantic properties of indefinites cross-linguistically, and provide ground work for future research.


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