No two ways about it: Emphatic assertion in Gitksan

Lisa Matthewson (Department of Linguistics, University of British Columbia)

This paper investigates two discourse markers in Gitksan (Tsimshianic), both of which convey a pre-theoretic notion of ‘emphasis’. The first, k’ap, is glossed as ‘certainly, indeed, for sure’ by Rigsby (1986) and as ‘must, have to, absolutely, simply, really, no getting out of it, no two ways about it, no choice about it’ by Tarpent (1987) (in closely related Nisga’a). The second, ist, is glossed as ‘interact’ (Rigsby) or ‘affirmative’ (Tarpent). The precise contribution of these markers is difficult to pinpoint, and there is a lack of clarity in the literature about how to analyze emphasis markers. I argue that k’ap is used when the discourse context provides a contrasting proposition, while ist conveys that the speaker wishes to downdate the Question Under Discussion (cf. Gutzmann and Castroviejo Miró 2011 on verum focus). This correctly predicts that k’ap and ist can co-occur, in an expected set of special discourse contexts.

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