Interrogative Indefinites in Siouan

Koontz John E John.Koontz at
Wed Oct 18 18:41:18 UTC 2000

On Wed, 18 Oct 2000, Ardis R Eschenberg wrote:
> 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.'

I think this is the =shte (or s^te) I was referring to.  It should
contrast with =shti 'too', though the versions I recall from speech all
involved following aN, and so were =sht=aN.  In fact, I think what I
remember was actually =daN=shte=aN, which came out something like =jshtaN
in the context.  I about wore out that part of the tape listening to it.
My recollection is that it was a construction analogous to 'whether one
or whether two'.  The =daN, is some sort of contingency marker that occurs
in various contexts, and may well also be the final of iNdadaN.

Incidentally, this reminds me to remind folks working on Omaha-Ponca to
look for a contrast of iNdadaN and edadaN.  These certainly contrasted for
speakers in Dorsey's time.  Or he thought they did.  But linguists today
seem to be hearing an undifferentiated i(N)dadaN.  I wonder if this isn't
simply not expecting the contrast, though, of course, an error on Dorsey's
part is not impossible, and a change is not at all impossible.  Insofar as
I could determine what the contrast was from examples in context in
Dorsey's texts it looked like edadaN was 'what specific thing' and iNdadaN
was 'what thing in general'.  There was also dadaN, used in (some?)
non-questioning contexts.

Incidentally, I thought to discern a parallel distinction in ebe 'who',
marked by the location of the accent:  e'be vs. ebe'.  (The latter of
these sounds to some extent like ibi' in practice, I recall.)

The e vs. i contrast may involve i vs. [I], and, of course, it is rather
hard to hear nasalization on initial i(N), as we all know.

> (The sh is s hacek in Americanist orthography, I am forgetting the NetSiouan
> version of it right now.)

The NetSiouan notation is s^, but I think that it would be perfectly
acceptable to use the practical orthography, now that there is one.

Which brings up another question for me, which is, are the Nebraska Omaha
and Oklahoma Ponca practical classroom schemes the same?  I've forgotten.

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