The Semantics of Indefinites in Persian
페르시아어 부정명사구의 의미론
- 다부드 카스레이 킬라크재니
- Seungho Nam
- 인문대학 언어학과
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 대학원
- Persian Indefinites ; Indefinite Pronouns ; Negative Polarity ; Positive Polarity ; Specificity
- 학위논문 (석사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 언어학과, 2014. 2. 남승호.
- This thesis addresses the distribution and interpretation of indefinite pronouns and noun phrases in Persian in a variety of contexts hitherto not fully explored. I claim that what Haspelmath (1997) classified as Persian generic-noun-based indefinites had certain holes and to show the true nature of indefinite pronouns in Persian they must be divided into two classes - generic-noun-based indefinites and numeral one-based indefinites. I call the latter yek series and the former –i series. I claim that the two series of indefinites in Persian are not fully identical contrary to what is often assumed in the literature and this can also be understood from the behavior of indefinite pronouns and be extended to ordinary indefinite NPs in a certain degree.
I claim that the yek series show emphatic vs. nonemphatic contrast in both positive and negative contexts. The emphatic form indicates the specificity of the indefinites and brings about a wide scope reading and allows them to be epistemically or scopally specific. In negative contexts the emphatic form can bring a positive polarity reading in addition to marking specificity.
The yek series can also be used as minimizers (a type of negative polarity items) with a unique accentuation pattern different from the emphatic forms. Minimizing yek series invoke a scalar implicature. This behavior of yek series can be extended to singular yek indefinite NPs as plural ones do not show (non-)emphatic contrast and cannot be used as minimizers. But, as plural indefinite NPs are presuppositional they can bring the positive polarity reading in negative contexts.
In contrast, the –i series show the (non-)emphatic contrast just within limited positive contexts. But they lose this contrast in negative contexts as they inherently interpret as indefinite existentials inside the scope of negation. Being interpreted inside the scope of negation does not mean that they are negative polarity items because they appear in both positive and negative contexts as indefinite existentials and unlike broad NPIs they do not show a free choice reading. I claim that this behavior of –i series too, can be extended to singular –i indefinite NPs. Plural –i indefinites do not have emphatic form but as they are presuppositional indefinites, they can bear a positive polarity reading.
The suffix –i can optionally co-occur with the yek series pronouns, but for ordinary yek NPs it is found that there is some restriction depending on the context. The study of the distribution of indefinite pronouns and indefinite NPs shows that the distribution of –i is sensitive to whether the speaker wishes to convey an exact value, or an approximation of the value. I also discuss how the approximation effect might interact with the specific reading of the accusative marker rā in Persian.