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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The UCSD Department of Linguistics was founded in 1965 and emphasizes theoretical, empirical and experimental approaches to the study of language. San Diego Linguistic Papers is the new on-line working papers of the UC San Diego Department of Linguistics.

Cover page of Erasure as a means of maintaining diglossia in Cyprus

Erasure as a means of maintaining diglossia in Cyprus


The Greek speech community of Cyprus is characterized by classic diglossia, with the local varieties forming the L, and Standard Greek the H. It is argued here that this diglossic situation is maintained against what the sociopolitical and economic conditions would predict, because the prevailing linguistic ideology—according to which Cypriots are ethnically Greek, an ethnic identity that is primarily defined by the use of (an almost uniform) Greek language—has led to the erasure of diglossia. The case of Cyprus shows that linguistic ideology and the role of language in indexing ethnicity may be crucial for the maintenance of diglossia in some linguistic communities and may prove more powerful than socio-economic conditions in sustaining the linguistic status quo.

Cover page of Japanese passives, external arguements, and structural case

Japanese passives, external arguements, and structural case


Different instances of the Japanese passive morpheme, –(r)are, show conflicting behaviors, sometimes like the prototypical passive and other times like a predicate taking a clausal complement. As such, they have resisted attempts to achieve a unified analysis. In this paper, I argue that the apparent irreconcilable differences among different instances of Japanese passives can be given a unified account with the following assumptions: i) Japanese passives are functional heads whose projection provides a structure with which an external argument is introduced, ii) only one type of the passives, Indirect Passive, is capable of proving structural case to its complement, and iii) external arguments introduced by Japanese passives receive their interpretation compositionally. According to the proposed analysis, the differences among different instances of the passive morpheme are due to a single factor: presence/absence of structural case.

Cover page of On the representational status of /s/-clusters

On the representational status of /s/-clusters


This work argues against the claim that a structural distinction is the necessary source of the divergent patterns of behavior attested in /s/- and non-/s/ consonant sequences. Previous treatments of linguistic phenomena as wide-ranging and manifold as Sanskrit reduplication (Steriade 1988), Italian allomorphy (Davis 1990), and the acquisition of English word-initial clusters (Barlow 2001) have all converged on the assumption that /s/-sequences require structural representations that are different from those assigned to other consonant clusters. In each of these cases however, I show that analyses of the data that do not assume a structural distinction are simpler, and either have more explanatory power, or generate more accurate predictions.

Cover page of Rhetorical questions as redundant interrogatives

Rhetorical questions as redundant interrogatives


Standard analyses associate rhetorical questions with negative singleton answers, but I introduce new data (including Switchboard corpus data) with rhetorical questions that have a wider range of answers: (1) Negative answer Who lifted a finger to help? (2) Positive answer Has the educational system been so watered down that anybody who' s above average is now gifted? (3) Non-null answer Who always shows up late to class? (4) Multiple answers What’s going to happen to these kids when they grow up? I propose a new condition for felicitous use of rhetorical questions: the Speaker and Addressee must share prior commitments to similar and obvious answers. I frame the analysis of shared answers within Gunlogson's (2001) model of Common Ground, and I define sufficiently similar answers as those that either have an identical value or share an extreme position on a contextually relevant scale. Obviousness is measured using van Rooy's (2003) implementation of entropy for calculating the predictability of an answer set. Because they invoke an answer set, rhetorical questions resemble interrogatives, but the obviousness of a particular answer implies the bias of an assertion. As such, they are assertive, yet uninformative: instead of informing any discourse participant, rhetorical questions are redundant and serve to synchronize Speaker and Addressee beliefs.

Cover page of Linguistic practices in Cyprus and the emergence of Cypriot Standard Greek

Linguistic practices in Cyprus and the emergence of Cypriot Standard Greek


In Cyprus today systematic changes affecting all levels of linguistic analysis are observed in the use of Standard Greek, giving rise to a distinct linguistic variety which can be called Cypriot Standard Greek. The changes can be attributed to the influence of English and Cypriot Greek (the local linguistic variety), and to the increasing use of the Standard in semi-formal occasions. Equally important is the reluctance to recognize the diglossic situation on the island (in which Standard Greek is the H variety and Cypriot Greek the L), for political and ideological reasons. This in turn means that the attention of the Cypriot speakers is not drawn to the differences between Standard Greek as spoken in Greece and their usage of it; thus the differences become gradually consolidated, while the users remain unaware of them.