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

New from Oxford University Press!


Oxford Handbook of Corpus Phonology

Edited by Jacques Durand, Ulrike Gut, and Gjert Kristoffersen

Offers the first detailed examination of corpus phonology and serves as a practical guide for researchers interested in compiling or using phonological corpora

New from Cambridge University Press!


The Languages of the Jews: A Sociolinguistic History

By Bernard Spolsky

A vivid commentary on Jewish survival and Jewish speech communities that will be enjoyed by the general reader, and is essential reading for students and researchers interested in the study of Middle Eastern languages, Jewish studies, and sociolinguistics.

New from Brill!


Indo-European Linguistics

New Open Access journal on Indo-European Linguistics is now available!

Summary Details

Query:   Sum: Verbal interrogatives (11.119)
Author:  Lameen Souag
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Language Documentation

Summary:   Thanks a lot to everyone who sent examples. Verbal interrogatives in fact
seem to be embarrassingly frequent (particularly around the Pacific rim by
some odd coincidence.) Here are the cases sent in:

John Koontz:
Typical Siouan languages have a verb 'to say what/something'. In
Omaha-Ponca: edehe 'what did I say', edes^e 'what did you say', ede?
'what did he say'. Also in Dakotan, e.g., Teton (Lakota).

Norvin Richards:
Ponapeian has interrogative verbs that mean things like "go
where?"--Rehg discusses these in his grammar of Ponapeian.
I've also heard Tagalog speakers inflect _ano_, the word for 'what', as a
verb (and my Tagalog dictionary, by Leo English, lists this as a
possibility)--that gets you sentences like:
1. Umano ka diyan?
Past-what you there
'What did you do there?'
(the Tagalog verb _ano_ can also mean 'do something'. Don't know about the
Ponapeian one)

Just ran across another one: Lardil (Australian, probably Pama-Nyungan)
has a verb _ngajuwa_ 'to do something, to do what?':
Ngajuwathu nyi bilaanku?
do-what-FUT you tomorrow
'What are you doing tomorrow?'

Eloise Jelinek:
The Coast Salish languages of the Northwestern U.S. have been claimed
to lack a noun/verb contrast at the lexical level. There are basic
roots which appear with inflectional material, deriving either an
NP or a VP. There are roots meaning "do something/what" or "say
something/what", etc., in these languages, as in
steN=sxW "What are you doing?"
c@ '@ns-steN "the thing that you do"
the 2sPOSS-do:what/something

Garland D. Bills:
Although it's not real clearcut, there is something that is kind of like a
verbal interrogative in Quechua. The interrogative forms in Quechua function
as both interrogatives and indefinites (typically but not always with
different discourse suffixes attached, but I'll ignore those here), e.g.
_pi_ who, someone', _ima_ what, something'. The latter occurs with a suffix
(that may have once been a verbalizing suffix but doesn't seem to be
productive now) to produce what might be called a "verbal
interrogative/indefinite" stem: _ima-na-_ happen, do what, do something'.
My impression is that it's not terribly productive, tending to occur in
expressions like the following:
ima-na-saq (-saq = 1 sg future)
What shall I do?
ima-na-su-rqa (-su = 2 obj, -rqa = past)
What happened to you?

Martin Haspelmath:
Nivkh (Gilyak), an isolate of Sakhalin, has the verbs jad' 'do
what?' and jaGod' 'be like what?', as in: ytyk jad'?
'What is father doing?' (ytyk = father)

Gregory D. S. Anderson:
There are in fact a number of languages that have verbal interrogatives. The
Siberian Turkic language Tuvan (Tyvan) is one such language. Both South
Munda and North Munda, Austroasiatic languages of east-central India
(Orissa, Bihar) possess interrogatives used verbally 'to what, to how' etc.

The list is long enough to make me feel rather naive. I wonder if there are
any pre/postpositional interrogatives...

Lameen Souag

LL Issue: 11.126
Date Posted: 22-Jan-2000
Original Query: Read original query


Sums main page