[FUNKNET] grammaticalization of negatives/interrogatives
msgidgol at MSCC.HUJI.AC.IL
Thu Mar 10 06:21:19 UTC 2005
In addition to Matthew Anstey's right comment, one may be interested
to follow some further developments in a similar vein, but first we
may mention that the same word /ma:/ in Arabic stands both for "what",
and for "not" before a verb-form: /ma: fa&alta/ "What did you do?" =
"You did not do ...". The same has been noticed for Ancient Hebrew,
where besides the common use of /ma:/ for "what" there are remnants
of /ma:/ for "not", as in the parallel Biblical verses 2 Sam 20:1 and
1 Kings 12:16, where one has /ein lanu/ "we do not have" whereas the
parallel has /ma: lanu/ in the otherwise identical sentence. It
cannot be smoothly explained away by thinking of rhetoric questions.
But let us return to polar questions: in colloquial Hebrew, /eifo/
(lit. "where") is commonly used for denial (even of a negative
statement): /eifo hevin/ (lit. "'where' did he understand") means
"he did not understand, I don't believe that he understood", /eifo
lo hevin/ "it cannot be, I don't believe that he did not understand,
he just pretends so". Exactly identical is the use in Amharic of
/mache/ "when": /mache gäbbaw/ "he did not understand (it)" ["when
did he understand (it)?"]. In Amharic, by the way, yes-or-no questions
would commonly refer explicitly to the positive and the negative as
well: "Did you understand (or didn't you understand)?", "I don't know
whether you understand and whether you don't understand", "I am ssking
about your understanding and (about) your not understanding".
>Many semitic languages show a probable development from an interrogative
>particle of place "where is ...?" to an negative existential "there is not
>...". Similar to English, "Where's Pete?" that implies "Pete is not here".
>Unfortunately, the actual grammaticalisation paths are hard to determine.
>But the examples speak for themselves:
>Akkadian: ayyaanum "where?" ; yaanu "there is not"
>Ugaritic: ?iy "where?" ; ?in "there is not"
>Arabic: ?ayna "where?" ; ?in "not"
>Biblical Hebrew: ?eey, ?ayyeeh, ?áyin, ?aan "where?" ; ?eeyn "there is
>not", ?iiy "not"
>Moabite: ?n "there is not"
>Punic: ynny "there is not"
>El-Amarna Canaanite: ayakam, ayami "where?"
>Aramaic: ?ayin "where? ; ?ayin "there is not"
>Phoenician: ?y "there is not"
>There are many other similar ?y(n) words, meaning either "where?" and/or
>"there is not".
>Sorry I can't be more specific. A specialist in comparative Semitics would
>be able to shed much more light on this!
>Mr Matthew Anstey
>Charles Sturt University, School of Theology, Sessional Lecturer
>Vrije Universiteit, PhD candidate
>St Mark's National Theological Centre
>15 Blackall St
>Barton ACT 2600
>Ph: +61 (0)2 6273 1572
>Fax: +61 (0)2 6273 4067
>Email: manstey at csu.edu.au
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu
>> [mailto:funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu] On Behalf Of Matti Miestamo
>> Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2005 12:34 AM
>> To: funknet; lingtyp
>> Subject: [FUNKNET] grammaticalization of negatives/interrogatives
>> Dear List Members,
>> A possible source for polar interrogative markers is the use
>> of negative markers as tag questions, and I'd be interested
>> to hear about any attested cases of such developments; Heine
>> & Kuteva briefly mention this possibility in their World
>> Lexicon of Grammaticalization but do not discuss any attested
>> cases (they do discuss the role of negation in the A-not-A
>> interrogative construction, but this is not what I'm after).
>> I'd also be interested in any other cases of
>> grammaticalization where a negative marker has developed into
>> a question marker or vice versa.
>> Thanks and best wishes,
>> Matti Miestamo
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