A variably exhaustive and scalar focus particle and pragmatic focus concord in Burmese
Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine, Keely Zuo-Qi New
April 2021

The Burmese particle hmá expresses cleft-like exhaustivity in some contexts but a scalar, even-like meaning in other contexts. We propose that hmá is uniformly a not-at-issue scalar exhaustive, with semantics similar to that proposed for English it-clefts in Velleman, Beaver, Destruel, Bumford, Onea, and Coppock 2012. When hmá takes wide scope, it leads to an exhaustive interpretation which is not scale-sensitive. When hmá takes scope under negation, the resulting expression will have a scale-sensitive felicity condition due to a Non-Vacuity constraint.
We also analyze the sentence-final mood marker ta/da, which frequently but not always appears in scalar hmá utterances, in a manner similar to focus concord effects in other languages. We propose that ta/da is a marker of propositional clefts and argue that the semantics of hmá and the pragmatic requirements of propositional clefts together derive this apparent focus concord effect, as well as its exceptions.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004697
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear, Semantics & Pragmatics
keywords: burmese, focus particle, exhaustivity, scalarity, non-vacuity, propositional cleft, focus concord, kakari-musubi, semantics
previous versions: v1 [July 2019]
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