The exhaustive particle =ok in Hill Mari and beyond
The paper examines the semantics and distribution of the polyfunctional Hill Mari focus particle =ok. We describe two interpretations of =ok possible on a wide range of hosts: the exhaustive use and the counteradditive use; besides, we consider several uses that are only possible with a lexically or semantically conditioned set of entities. We argue that =ok falls into a class of devices with not-at-issue exhaustive inferences, along with the English it-cleft and some other cross-linguistic counterparts. We discuss the implications that the Hill Mari data have for the typology of this class of constructions: Hill Mari =ok suggests that discourse givenness of the denotation of the focus constituent is an important dimension along which such elements vary across languages.
Besides, in this paper we draw an areal comparison of the Hill Mari =ok with its counterparts in the Volga-Kama languages: Meadow Mari, Chuvash, Tatar, Bashkir and Udmurt. Although the origin and the general set of readings is the same, the syntactic behavior of =ok’s counterparts varies significantly.