re interrogative verbs + interrogative relators + indefiniteordinals

Hannu Tommola trhato at UTA.FI
Mon Mar 26 12:46:12 UTC 2001

At 22:54 25.3.2001 -0500, you wrote:
>Regarding David Gil's conjecture
>(4) Conjecture: question words can "ask about" items belonging to major
>(or open) syntactic categories, but not minor (or closed) ones.
>I can anticipate various responses to the following, but arguably "which"
>is English is an exception, since it is a determiner, a closed class.
>Note that one must not confuse an interrogative meaning "which" from one
>meaning "what sort of", which English lacks a single word for.  I suspect
>that there are languages in which there is a word meaning "what sort of"
>that belongs to a closed class of adjectives, but I know of no example.
>Also, in many languages, numerals are arguably a closed class, but I
>believe that many such languages have a word for "how many".
>Matthew Dryer

There are, for example, in Finnish and in Swedish, interrogatives meaning
'what sort of' that belong to the class of adjectives:

Finn. mika" 'what? which?' vs. millainen 'what sort of?'
Swd. vilk-en, -et, -a 'which?' vs. hurudan, -t, -a 'what sort of'

and, perhaps 'what' would better render the meaning.

e.g.: A: I went to see a movie yesterday.
         B: _Minka"_ elokuvan na"it? 'which picture did you see?'
A: It was Wajda's Pan Tadeusz.
         B: _Millainen_ se oli? 'what was it like?'


Hannu Tommola
Hannu Tommola, Professor of Russian Language, Department of Translation
Studies, FIN-33014 University of Tampere, Finland, Tel.: +358-(0)3-215
6102, Fax:(0)3-215 7200,

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