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LINGUIST List 22.438

Tue Jan 25 2011

Qs: Semantics: Sometimes vs. Maybe

Editor for this issue: Danielle St. Jean <daniellelinguistlist.org>

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        1.     George Huttar , Semantics: Sometimes vs. Maybe

Message 1: Semantics: Sometimes vs. Maybe
Date: 20-Jan-2011
From: George Huttar <gukageorgegmail.com>
Subject: Semantics: Sometimes vs. Maybe
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Some languages use an expression meaning "sometimes" to express
possibility. Can you direct me to literature or other sources about how
widespread this phenomenon is, and what its semantic rationale may

1. Swahili *pingine* is glossed in dictionaries as both 'sometimes' and

2. Kenyan English commonly uses *sometimes* where my American
English dialect calls for *maybe*, as in "Sometimes she'll come

3. Dutch *soms* is used as both 'sometimes' and 'maybe'.

4. Some creoles of Suriname express possibility with forms derived
from English *some time*, as in *Son+ten a sa kon.* 'Maybe s/he'll

(Cf. Spanish and Portuguese *talvez* 'maybe'.)

Thanks. I'll post a summary if warranted by responses.

George Huttar

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

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