Focus and relativization: head-final relatives in Thompson Salish

Karsten Koch


This paper presents previously unreported data on relatively rare head-final relatives in Thompson River Salish. I show that head-final relatives are used in discourse contexts where narrow focus falls on the relative clause itself, excluding the final head noun. As a result, this is the first report of narrow focus marking within a nominal domain in Salishan; previous accounts of focus marking in Salish have observed that the focus is always associated with the matrix predicate. While focus marking in both the nominal and predicate domain can be characterized as following a linear focus >> background order, focus sensitive expressions (only) cannot associate with in situ nominals. This suggests that there are two focus marking strategies at work in the language: a syntactic strategy (focus=predicate), and a prosodic one (left alignment). Only the former is relevant for truth-conditional uses of focus (e.g. association with only).


relative clauses; focus; background; Salish; information structure

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Working Papers of the Linguistics Circle

EISSN: 1920-440X
ISSN: 1200-3344

University of Victoria