Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: Inflection and Questioning
Question: What languages do not use vocal inflection to imply a question?
I am an ELL teacher and have 22 different languages in my school.
East African dialects are common and I wondered if they use
inflection to imply they are asking a question?

Koren? Vietnamese? Arabic? Tigrina? Omro? Where can I find this

I can not find any real information on this topic.



Reply: The Jaqi languages of the Andes do not use intonation (cf Stahike's reply) for questions. The languages use sentence suffixes, that is, suffixes that occur on words but that refer to the whole of the sentence, indicating what type of sentence it is. This is a category unknown in the Indo-European languages so for 500 years the suffixes were called 'sufijos de adorno' (adornment suffixes). They have different suffixes for yes/no questions, information questions, rhetorical questions, etc. It is quite a fascinating system. cf the grammars published by Lincom Europa Jaqaru (2000) and Aymara (2002).
Reply From: M J Hardman      click here to access email
Date: 16-May-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Inflection and Questioning    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (16-May-2013)
  2. Re: Inflection and Questioning    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (16-May-2013)
  3. Re: Inflection and Questioning    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (16-May-2013)

Back to Most Recent Questions