DP structure and internally headed relatives in Washo

Emily A. Hanink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper contributes to recent lines of inquiry addressing the nature of indices in definite expressions. The primary language of investigation is Washo, a North American isolate spoken in the western United States. Building on previous claims about the structure of anaphoric definites, I propose a unified analysis of the Washo DP that lends novel evidence to the claim that indices are best thought of as syntactic objects in their own right, independent from D. The structurally encoded index—introduced by a head idx—is shown to be overtly realized by the morpheme gi/ge in both pronouns and demonstratives, as well as at the periphery of internally headed relative clauses, which are themselves complex DPs. An important aspect of this proposal is the argument that idx can play two related semantic roles: The semantic index it hosts can be interpreted either as a variable, as previously proposed for familiar definites, or itself as a variable binder. The availability of the latter explains the appearance of gi/ge in internally headed relatives. I show moreover that the exponence of idx in Washo is sensitive to the type of complement it takes, a proposal that makes sense of the observed distribution of gi/ge in a range of definite expressions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Early online date17 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jul 2020


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