Navajo in the typology of internally-headed relatives

Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten, Keir Moulton


This paper considers the semantics of Navajo internally-headed relative clauses (IHRCs) with quantified heads. The results of storyboard-based fieldwork show that when the quantifier ’ałníí’dóó ‘half’ occurs in RC-internal position, it necessarily takes RC-internal scope. This result suggests that Navajo IHRCs are amenable to analyses given to Japanese IHRCs (Hoshi 1995; Shimoyama 1999) but challenges claims by Faltz (1995) and Grosu (2012), who argue that t’áá ’ałtso ‘all’ invariably takes RC-external scope. We show that while IHRCs with t’áá ’ałtso do not have precisely the truth conditions expected for EHRCs, their truth conditions differ from what might be expected given a Shimoyama-style IHRC analysis (pace Grosu 2012). However, we consider one way to explain this behavior while maintaining surface scope for all Navajo quantifiers.

Full Text:



Bogal-Allbritten, Elizabeth & Keir Moulton. To appear. Nominalized clauses and reference to propositional content. In Rob Truswell (ed.), Sinn und Bedeutung 21, 1–18.

Burton, Strang & Lisa Matthewson. 2015. Targeted construction storyboards in semantic fieldwork. In M. Ryan Bochnak & Lisa Matthewson (eds.), Methodologies in Semantic Fieldwork, 135–156. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Carlson, Greg N. 1977. Amount relatives. Language 58(3). 520–542.

Culy, Christopher. 1990. The syntax and semantics of internally-headed relative clauses. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University PhD dissertation.

Faltz, Leonard M. 1995. Towards a typology of natural logic. In Emmon Bach, Eloise Jelinek, Angelika Kratzer & Barbara Partee (eds.), Quantification in Natural Languages, 271–319. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Faltz, Leonard M. 2000. A semantic basis for Navajo syntactic typology. In Theodore Fernald & Paul Platero (eds.), The Athabaskan Languages: Perspectives on a Native American Language Family, 28–50. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

von Fintel, Kai. 1994. Restrictions on quantifier domains. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Amherst PhD dissertation.

Grosu, Alexander. 2012. Towards a more articulated typology of internally headed relative constructions: The semantics connection. Language and Linguistics Compass 6(7). 447–476.

Grosu, Alexander & Fred Landman. 2012. A quantificational disclosure approach to Japanese and Korean internally headed relatives. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 21(2). 159–196.

Hastings, Rachel Elizabeth. 2004. The syntax and semantics of relativization and quantification: The case of Quechua. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University PhD dissertation.

Hoshi, Koji. 1995. Structural and interpretive aspects of head-internal and head external relative clauses. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester PhD dissertation.

Jelinek, Eloise. 1984. Empty categories, case, and configurationality. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 2(1). 39–76.

Kim, Min-Joo. 2007. Formal linking in internally headed relatives. Natural Language Semantics 15(4). 279–315.

Kim, Min-Joo. 2009. E-type anaphora and three types of kes-construction in Korean. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 27(2). 345–377.

Lees, Robert B. 1960. The Grammar of English Nominalizations. The Hague: Mouton. 19

Mantla, Rosa, Keir Moulton & Leslie Saxon. In prep. Report on quantifiers in Tłı̨chǫ internally-headed relatives (working title). Ms., University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University.

Marti, Luisa. 2003. Contextual variables as pronouns. In Robert B. Young & Yuping Zhou (eds.), Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 13, 240–257. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications.

Matthewson, Lisa. 2004. On the methodology of semantic fieldwork. International Journal of American Linguistics 70(4). 369–415.

Philip, William. 1995. Event quantification in the acquisition of universal quantification. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Amherst PhD dissertation.

Platero, Paul. 1974. The Navajo relative clause. International Journal of American Linguistics 40(3). 202–246.

Sauerland, Uli. 2003. Unpronounced heads in relative clauses. In Kerstin Schwabe & Susanne Winkler (eds.), The Interfaces: Deriving and Interpreting Omitted Structures, 205–226. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Saxon, Leslie. 2000. Head-internal relative clauses in Dogrib (Athapaskan). In Andrew Carnie, Eloise Jelinek & MaryAnn Willie (eds.), Papers in Honor of Ken Hale (Working Papers on Endangered and Less Familiar Languages 1), 93–108. Cambridge, MA: MITWPL.

Schauber, Ellen. 1979. The syntax and semantics of questions in Navajo. Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics. Champaign-Urbana: Garland Press.

Shimoyama, Junko. 1999. Internally headed relative clauses in Japanese and E-type anaphora. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 8(2). 147–182.

Smith, Carlota, Ellavina Perkins & Theodore Fernald. 2007. Time in Navajo: Direct and indirect interpretation. International Journal of American Linguistics 73(1). 40–72.

Westerståhl, Dag. 1985. Determiners and context sets. In Johan van Benthem & Alice ter Meulen (eds.), Generalized Quantifiers in Natural Language, 47–71. Dordrecht: Foris.

Willie, MaryAnn. 1989. Why there is nothing missing in Navajo relative clauses. In Eung-Do Cook & Keren Rice (eds.), Athapaskan Linguistics: Current Perspectives on a Language Family (Trends in Linguistics. State-of-the-Art Reports 15), 265–315. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Young, Robert & William Morgan. 1987. The Navajo Language. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. 20