The expression of exhaustivity and scalarity in Burmese

Keely New, Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine


The Burmese particle hma expresses exhaustivity in some contexts but a scalar, even-like meaning in other contexts. We detail the distribution of hma and its meaning and develop a unified semantics. Hma is a not-at-issue scalar exhaustive, similar to the semantics proposed for English it-clefts in Velleman, Beaver, Destruel, Bumford, Onea & Coppock 2012. When hma takes wide scope, it leads to an exhaustive, cleft interpretation which is not scale-sensitive. When hma takes scope under negation, the resulting meaning will have a scale-sensitive felicity condition. We also discuss the semantics of the sentence-final mood marker dar, which we propose is a marker of propositional clefts (Sheil 2016), and its apparent role in the determination of the scope of hma.

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Copyright (c) 2018 Keely New, Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine