The Dravidian Correlative and the Disjunction Marker

  • Rahul Balusu


The Dravidian correlative is formed with a wh-item containing clause that has the disjunction marker -oo at the clause edge. The disjunction marker -oo in Dravidian languages besides coordinating elements, also participates in forming indefinites, and questions. Given that the canonical semantics of correlatives (Dayal 1991, 1996) analyses them as definite descriptions, which bind the pronoun variable via predicate abstraction, the issue is what -oo is doing here, and how the semantic composition works. This sketch towards a compositional derivation of the Dravidian correlative based on a question denotation proves that it is not only feasible but also quite advantageous -- we keep a unified semantics of -oo, the disjunction marker that also participates in forming indefinites, and questions, and derive a number of properties of the Dravidian correlative from the semantics of questions and answers. In the literature, the typology of correlatives has been proposed to have two syntactic parameters -- one, the kind of relative clause it originates from -- EHRC, IHRC, FR; and two, the kind of left dislocation involved -- HTLD, CLD, CLLD. We propose to add to this typology a third and semantic parameter, its denotation -- property or propositional (we locate this semantic parameter itself in the denotation of the wh-items of the language, their lexical semantic entry -- as sets of alternatives or as property free variables). We show that the Dravidian correlative is built out of a proposition-based denotation, Externally Headed Relative Clause, and Hanging Topic Left Dislocation.