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The Structure of Words at the Interfaces$
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Heather Newell, Máire Noonan, Glyne Piggott, and Lisa deMena Travis

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198778264

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198778264.001.0001

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Verb stem formation and event composition in Oji-Cree

Verb stem formation and event composition in Oji-Cree

(p.261) 12 Verb stem formation and event composition in Oji-Cree
The Structure of Words at the Interfaces

Tanya Slavin

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates the structure of the verb stem in Oji-Cree, a dialect of the Algonquian language Ojibwe. It argues that a stem constitutes an independent semantic domain that corresponds to an event. This conception of stems explains why certain roots, called weak roots, must be preceded by modifiers, thereby satisfying a so-called left-edge requirement, while other roots, called strong roots, have no such requirement. Weak roots are semantically deficient and the obligatory pre-radical modifier is necessary to create a complete event. In contrast, an (optional) modifier before a strong root has scope over a complete event. The difference is illustrated by the morpheme /caaki/ ‘all’. When it combines stem-internally, its scope is restricted to internal arguments. However, when it combines stem-externally, it can have a quantificational reading with scope over an external argument. The semantic difference between stem-internal and stem-external composition is also correlated with some phonological differences.

Keywords:   Oji-Cree, Ojibwe, Algonquian, verb stem formation, left-edge requirement, event composition, modifier scope

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