In Kipsigis (Nilotic; Kenya) each adjective or full relative clause that modifies the noun must be preceded by one of four determiners; three of these determiners are demonstratives, making Kipsigis a rare example of a language with demonstrative spreading (as opposed to the common spreading of definite articles; cf. Alexiadou 2014). I argue that the complex distribution of these determiners is best captured by an analysis of relative clauses as D’s with a clausal complement (Kayne 1994 among others), with my analysis of determiner spreading being close to Alexiadou & Wilder’s (1998) analysis of determiner spreading in Greek. I discuss the implications of the Kipsigis data for the typology of determiner spreading (also called definiteness agreement in the literature), and I conclude that a relative clause structure is key to the understanding of the phenomenon, even in languages that are often analyzed in terms of agreement/concord (e.g., many Semitic languages). Finally, I show that demonstratives in Kipsigis are best analyzed as D heads, and conclude that demonstratives can be either heads or phrasal depending on the language.
A relative clause analysis of Determiner Spreading in Kipsigis