LINGUIST List 6.598

Sat 22 Apr 1995

Sum: Relativizer/Interrogative Question

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Message 1: Sum: relativizer/interrogative question

Date: Mon, 17 Apr 1995 22:47:25 Sum: relativizer/interrogative question
From: <HARRISDguvax.acc.georgetown.edu>
Subject: Sum: relativizer/interrogative question

I got several responses on my relativizer/interrogative question. Most
of them pointed out the many instances where interrogative look-alikes
are, in fact, not used.

I should have been more specific about what I meant. I do know that
those relativizers which relate to nouns and pronouns often are not
based on interrogatives. English and German are good examples of
this. However, I was referring to non-nominals like 'where,' 'when,'
'what,' 'how,' and 'why.' Since I am unfamiliar with any technical
name for such animals (other than just plain 'non-nominal
relativizers'), I will include several examples to illustrate my
point:

The house *where* Jack lives. The moment *when* she arrives. I will
show you *how* to do it. I will explain *why* it is done that
way. This is *what* we want.

German: Ich weiss *wo* er wohnt. *Was* du in der Zeit tust oder nicht
tust, entscheidet dein Los in der Ewigkeit.

*Wer* Banknoten verfaelscht oder nachmacht oder sich Nachgemachte oder
Verfaelschte...
Ich weiss noch nicht *wann* ich wieder kommen kann.
Ich kann, *wie* ich schon gesagt habe, nur morgen oder uebermorgen kommen.

While relative pronouns deriving from nouns and pronouns often differ
quite markedly from interrogatives, I think you will find that the
above-noted examples can be translated into a wide variety of
languages using these same interrogative-like forms. It can certainly
be done in Arabic, Russian, and Farsi. I'm curious if the same holds
true when one ventures outside I-E and Semitic languages into
Finno-Ugric, Chinese, and other language groups. I did receive some
data on a Great Basin language which suggests that at least one
Amerindian language works in this way in addition to those I've noted
above.

While on the subject, I find it interesting that German does make use
of at least three non-nominal demonstratives as abstract
relatives. These are 'da' and 'dann' and 'denn.' (Dann, however, is
also used in non-abstract situations) One interrogative (wenn) is also
used in this more abstract sense. English uses "then" in the same way,
and it may be that 'than' also originates from a demonstrative moving
via a relative incarnation on to its present-day usage as a marker for
the compared item in a comparative utterance. But, for the most part,
less abstract usages remain fixed in interrogatives forms.

I received a wealth of suggestions concerning where else to look (see
below). However, any additional information is welcome. Thanks, David
Harris | harrisdguvax.georgetown.edu

************** ************ ************* ****************
 From IN%"CSCOTTmacc.wisc.edu" "Charles Scott"
 Subj various structures

I hope this is the Dave Harris whom I haven't seen for many years, and have
missed seeing at TESOL in recent years. If so, then hello.

***Sorry, that David Harris is now retired. I only met him once when he sub'd
 for
***an Old English class I was taking a couple of years ago. And I occasionally
 get his
***mail. Other than that, though, there is no connection other than that he is
 an extremely
***nice guy like me :-)

First, copula: In Mandarin, copula (shr) occurs with following
"predicate nominals", e.g. Ta shr jiaoxo (He/she is a professor), but
(shr) is deleted when a predicate adjective follows, e.g. Ni hao? (You
good? = How are you?). In Japanese, desu is the copula, and, so far
as I know, always occurs, as in English. In Arabic, as you point out,
(kaan) is the copula and occurs, if I remember correctly, only in
"completive aspect" structures. I analyze English "main verb (be)" as
obligatorily inserted by rule in any sequence of AUX PRED, where PRED
can be either a NP or a AP; in other words, it seems to me an entirely
predictable syntactic element, and therefore semantically empty. I
think this accords nicely with the behavior of the copula in a variety
of languages not necessarily related genealogically.

Second, interesting question about the historical relation of relative
pronouns to interrogatives, as in English. I forget the details, but
there's some discussion of the rise of relatives in Middle English in
Olga Fisher's chapter on Syntax in Volume II of the recent Cambridge
History of the English Language. Also, I think you'll find some
discussion in Elizabeth Traugott's History of English Syntax (1972).

Regards. I've heard that you've retired; is that so? Anyway, all best wishes.

Charles Scott
Dept. of English
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706
cscottmacc.wisc.edu
********************************************
 From IN%"bhelmcs.uoregon.edu" "B. Robert Helm"
 To IN%"harrisdguvax.acc.georgetown.edu"
 Subj RE: relative pronouns' relation to interrogatives

I'd suggest looking up "relative clause" in the Cambridge Encyclopedia
of Language or some similar linguistic encyclopedia. I did some time
ago, and I remember there was a reference to an article by Bernard
Comrie and some co-author, covering relatives in numerous languages
and suggesting some general characteristics. Choice of word for
relativizer was one of them, I believe. In addition to question
words, deixis words are apparently also common: "that" in English,
"ia" (here) in some English-based pidgin.

Suzanne Romaine's book on Pidgins and Creoles also discusses relatives
in some detail. I saw the Comrie reference there, too. I can get a
more exact reference to the Romaine book if you need it.

Rude question: are you designing a language? I'm on the Linguist list
and notice you have been asking a lot of interesting questions. Are
you on the CONLANG list?

Rob
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
 From IN%"loebnersapir.ling.uni-duesseldorf.de" "loebner"
 To IN%"HARRISDguvax.acc.georgetown.edu"
 CC
 Subj Rere: comparatives

For a survey of comparative and superlative constructions in 110 languages
see:
 Leon Stassen: The comparative compared,
 in: Journal of Semantics (1984) vol.3: pp.143-182

Sebastian Loebner,
University of Duesseldorf

*********************************************************
 From IN%"loebnersapir.ling.uni-duesseldorf.de" "loebner"
 To IN%"HARRISDguvax.acc.georgetown.edu"
 Subj RE: relative pronouns
Another common source of relative pronouns is (anaphoric) demonstratives,
such as English 'that', German 'der/die/das', Dutch 'die/dat'. It appears
to me that in these cases relative clauses emerged from sentences beginning
with anaphoric demonstratives. In older texts (18th,19th century), e.g. in
Grimm's tales, there are sequences of sentences which apparently
represent transition states on the way to relative constructions, cf.
 Es war einmal ein Mann, der hatte drei S hne.
 there (lit.: it) was once a man, that had three sons.
The second clause is not a relative clause but another main clause (because
of the position of the verb). The corresponding relative construction
would have the verb in final position:
 Es war einmal ein Mann, der drei S hne hatte.
Same pronoun, same order of clauses, same coreference between antecedent
and pronoun.

Sebastian Loebner

University of Duesseldorf
****************************
 From IN%"Deryle.LonsdaleA.NL.CS.CMU.EDU"
 To IN%"HARRISDguvax.acc.georgetown.edu"
 Subj Copula and comparison

You might already be aware of the article, but Nancy
Stenson wrote about that very subject with respect
to Irish; it's a thorough and interesting account.

"Overlapping systems in the Irish comparative construction",
WORD, The Journal of the American Linguistics Association,
vol. 28, 1976
***************************
 From IN%"WHARTONDiris.uncg.edu" "Dave Wharton"
 To IN%"harrisdguvax.acc.georgetown.edu"
 Subj interrogatives/relatives/indefinites in Greek

Dear David,

You might be interested to know that in Classical Greek, the
interrogative pronoun _tis_ (who? what?) is related to the indefinite
pronoun _tis_ (anyone, anything), the only difference between them being that
the interrogative is accented, whereas the indefinite is
not.

The relative pronoun, the definite article, and one of the
demonstrative pronouns, are all obviously related, with
the demonstrative probably historically prior to the other
two.

This is off the top of my head; you'll find more info in
Carl Darling Buck's _Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin_.
Dave Wharton
whartondiris.uncg.edu
****************************
 From IN%"ingriabbn.com"
 Subj 6.550 Qs: Various structures, Pronouns, Ergativity, Reference search

Which languages are you thinking of where relative and interrogative
pronouns are not differentiated, and how many is your ``so many''?
Off hand, quite a number of languages that I can think of have
distinct relative and interrogative pronouns:

Sanskrit
Classical Greek
Modern Greek (a different paradigm, not the same as Classical Greek)
German

Note that even in English, interrogatives and relatives do not exactly
overlap in usage. ``what'' is used for interrogatives but not for
relatives; ``which'' is used in relatives but not interrogatives (it
is used as a specifier or with an elided partive in questions, but it
cannot be a free-standing interrogative question pronoun). ``Who''
and ``whose'' are used in both interrogatives and relatives with the
same distribution. My knowledge of Latin and the Romance languages is
pretty rusty, but I believe that even there, where the ``qu-'' or
``ch-'' series of pronouns is used in both relatives and
interrogatives, it is not exactly the same paradigm of forms that
appears in both constructions, but I would need to double check this.

So I'm not sure I would agree with your presupposition that the
default case is for relative and interrogative pronouns to be the
same. How exactly do you define ``differentiated'' and
``undifferentiated''? In some of the cases I've listed as distinct,
the interrogative and relative pronouns are clearly related
paradigmatically, but the actual pronoun forms are distinct (cf.
Modern Greek ``pyos'' (interrogative who) vs. ``o opios'' (relative
who). Classical Greek had separate, but paradigmatically related,
forms for matrix questions, indirect questions, and relative clauses
(cf. ``pote'' (matrix q. when), ``hopote'' (indirect q. when),
``hote'' (relative when), and ``tote'' (then)). Do such cases count
as ``differentiated'' or not by your criteria?

Note also that when we talk about relative pronouns, there is the
question of the pronouns used in restrictive vs. appositive relative
clauses vs. in free relative clauses, which further complicates the
pictures. No language that I know of uses exactly the same set of
pronouns for all three.

*** there must 1] be
 Well, in some approaches to semantic representation, relative pronouns
and interrogatives function analogously: as quantifier elements of
some sort that create an open proposition. So it's not surprising
that there should be a paradigmatic relation between interrogatives
and relatives.

-30-
Bob Ingria
***************************

 From: IN%"Deryle.LonsdaleA.NL.CS.CMU.EDU"
 To: IN%"HARRISDguvax.acc.georgetown.edu"
 Subj: Copula and comparison

You might already be aware of the article, but Nancy
Stenson wrote about that very subject with respect
to Irish; it's a thorough and interesting account.

"Overlapping systems in the Irish comparative construction",
WORD, The Journal of the American Linguistics Association,
vol. 28, 1976
***************************
 From: IN%"WHARTONDiris.uncg.edu" "Dave Wharton"
 To: IN%"harrisdguvax.acc.georgetown.edu"
 Subj: interrogatives/relatives/indefinites in Greek

Dear David,

You might be interested to know that in Classical Greek, the
interrogative pronoun _tis_ (who? what?) is related to the indefinite
pronoun _tis_ (anyone, anything), the only difference between them being that
the interrogative is accented, whereas the indefinite is
not.

The relative pronoun, the definite article, and one of the
demonstrative pronouns, are all obviously related, with
the demonstrative probably historically prior to the other
two.

This is off the top of my head; you'll find more info in
Carl Darling Buck's _Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin_.
Dave Wharton
whartondiris.uncg.edu

****************************
 From: IN%"Edmund.Grimley-Evanscl.cam.ac.uk"
 Subj: relative pronouns

Relative pronouns in German are like the definite article (der die
das).

Also the relative pronoun "that" in English is related to a
demonstrative rather than an interrogative pronoun.
******************************************
 Subj: Copula & comparative & superlative
In Czech the copula structure is:
NO be NP
(nom.) (nom.)

Or optionally:

NP be NP
(nom.) (inst.)

The instrumental case is used for emphasis, in official registers, or (but
not necessarily) in referring to occupation or official position, as you
would see in Russian, except that the copula verb cannot be deleted. If the
noun differs in person or number from the demonstrative pronoun, that noun
determines the verb ending and usually not the "that" word (e.g., "To jsem
ja", lit. "That am, I."), although there are still more complications when
two nouns are involved.

The "become" construction obligatorily employs the instrumental case for
whatever something becomes. (Sorry, but my syntax lingo is really rusty.):

NP become NP
(nom.) (inst.)

As far as I know, the comparative requires the nominative for both NPs:

NP is bigger than NP
(nom.) (nom.)

The superlative is a copula structure, so it allows the choice of nominative
or instrumental.

Can't help you with the theta roles, because I've forgotten a lot of that
stuff. Also, check any of my assertions that might interest you with a
native speaker.

Hope this leads to something.

James Kirchner
**************************************

 From: IN%"Pai-SatishCS.YALE.EDU" "A Satish Pai"
 To: IN%"harrisdguvax.acc.georgetown.edu"
 CC:
 Subj: relatives and interrogatives

Sanskrit has different sets of words for relatives and interrogatives (they
have similar forms, except that relatives start with 'y' and the
interrogatives with 'k').

Curiously, many Sanskrit-derived languages in India today use the same word
for relatives and interrogatives. One major exception is Hindi, which has
different sets of words for the two classes, which makes it all the more
curious because it is substantially younger than the other Sanskrit-derived
languages that did not keep the distinction. I'm not sure about most of the
other Indo-European languages, but of Dravidian languages I know, the same
pattern prevails, of a single set of words doing double duty.

Anyway, it's not just Novial that has the distinction.

Regards,
 -Satish

A Satish Pai * pai-satishcs.yale.edu * Yale University Computer Science Dept.
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