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date: 04 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Salishan languages, spoken (or formally spoken) on the Northwest Coast of North America, are usually characterized as polysynthetic. Salish certainly shows many of the usual characteristics that cluster together in polysynthetic languages: it is head marking and agglutinating in word formation; and predicate morphology is rich and includes markers of aspect/tense, transitivity and valency alternating suffixes (including applicatives), pronominals, lexical affixes, and still others. However, the number of morphemes within a (morphological) word does not get as high as, for example, the Eskimoan languages. Nevertheless, it is argued that the following three traits observed justify characterizing Salish as polysynthetic: first, word forms are flexible; second, speakers can manipulate what goes into a predicate; and third, non-core arguments, that is, peripheral concepts, can be expressed in the predicate by means of lexical suffixes and applicatives.

Keywords: Salish, lexical affixes, applicative, head marking, valency alternating suffixes

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