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Query Details

Query Subject:   Semantics: Sometimes vs. Maybe
Author:   George Huttar
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Semantics

Query:   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
LL Issue: 22.438
Date posted: 25-Jan-2011


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