‘Out of control’ marking as circumstantial modality in St’át’imcets
This paper provides a unified semantic analysis of the so-called ‘out-of-control’ circumfix <i>ka-…-a</i> in St’át’imcets (Lillooet Salish). <i>ka-…-a</i> expresses an initially puzzling range of meanings, including “be able to”, “manage to”, “suddenly”, “accidentally”, and “non-controllable”. We propose that <i>ka-…-a</i> encodes circumstantial modality; we show that its various meanings all reduce to either an existential (ability) or universal (involuntary action) interpretation. Our analysis provides further support for a striking difference between St’át’imcets and English. In English, modals lexically encode quantificational strength, but do not encode distinctions between epistemic, deontic and circumstantial interpretations. St’át’imcets modals display exactly the inverse pattern (Rullmann et al. 2008). In line with this, <i>ka-…-a</i> lexically encodes circumstantial modality, but does not encode quantificational strength. The parallel between <i>ka-…-a</i> and other St’át’imcets modal elements provides support for our analysis, in contrast to previous accounts (e.g., Demirdache 1997), which treat <i>ka-…-a</i> as primarily aspectual in nature.