Interrogative Indefinites in Siouan

Ardis R Eschenberg are2 at
Wed Oct 18 16:48:55 UTC 2000

Dear Dr. Ingham,
Hi!  I believe Van (Robert D. Van Valin) addresses this in the chapter on
focus in his book.  I'll get the pages for you.
In UmoNhoN, the same situation seems to be happening from what I've seen
so far.  That is, 'what' iNdadaN' is used also for something and sometimes
'anything.'  The latter seems more often to be translated as iNdadaN shti
'what soever.'  (The sh is s hacek in Americanist orthography, I am
forgetting the Net Siouan version of it right now).
I'm really happy there'll be a print version of your work on Noun - verb
distinction.  I really enjoyed your talk on it in Regina & have tried to
remember your points on several occasions.  It'll be nice to refer to.
Take care,
PS Example:
INdadaN aniN-ya?   'Do you have anything?'

Also interestingly in Polish, when you use the wh-words in a question but
none of them occur first in the sentence (in the PreCore slot) and instead
you have the verb first, an indefinite reading is obtained.

Kupil  co   kto? 'Did anyone buy anything'
bought what who

So, even in European languages seem to have a similar phenomenon.  (The
above is in my MA thesis on Polish focus.)

On Wed, 18 Oct 2000, Bruce Ingham wrote:

> Dear Siouanists
> I am sorry for disturbing you by my previous message which was meant
>  for David.  However to make up for that I wonder if any one can
> help me on a question re the above, which I tried to find out when I
> first became interested in Lakota and am still not satisfied about,
> which is that, if indefinite items such as taku 'something', tohan
> 'sometime', tuktel 'somewhere', tokiya 'some direction', tuwa
> 'someone' can also serve as the question words  'what', 'when',
> 'where', 'where to'  and 'who', how then do we question an
> indefinite?  ie how do we say 'have you seen something', 'will he
> arrive sometime', 'are you going somewhere' and 'have you seen
> someone'?
> 	With taku we have a form takunl which can be used in this
> way to mean 'anything' , but what about tuwa, tuktel, tokiya and
> tohan and of course tokeske 'how' and others.  I have seen it
> suggested that this can be achieved by following them by cha so
> that tuwa cha wanlaka he could mean 'did you see anyone'.
> However many examples occur in texts where this just means 'who
> did you see?'.
> 	Has anyone any answer to this or comments about other
> Siouan languages.  I know that in some Far Eastern languages
> which also have the Interrogative-indefinite type of word the
> difference between 'who did you see' and 'did you see anyone'  is
> achieved only by intonation and I can see how that could occur
> also for Lakhota.
> 	 I have seen tohanhci for 'ever' as in tohanhci ekta yai he
> 'have you ever been there?' and tokiyetu cha for 'anywhere' as in
> tokiyetu ca he wanlaka he 'have you seen him anywhere?', but they
> seem to be rarely used.  It mystifies me as they would seem to be
> the sort of construction that in seven years of study of a language
> you would see a lot of examples of.  But in fact you do not see
> them often.
> Hope you can help
> Bruce
> Dr. Bruce Ingham
> Reader in Arabic Linguistic Studies

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