Varieties of What-ness (wasRe: Interrogative Indefinites in Siouan)

Koontz John E John.Koontz at
Sat Oct 21 05:16:13 UTC 2000

On Wed, 18 Oct 2000, Koontz John E wrote:
> Incidentally, this reminds me to remind folks working on Omaha-Ponca to
> look for a contrast of iNdadaN and edadaN.  ...

Here are three examples showing Omaha-Ponca da'daN ~ eda'daN ~ iNda'daN
'what' in contrast, and two showing them not so much in contrast.

Wani'tta da'daN t?e'=watha=i   e'=shte=waN
animal   what   they killed it that-soever-doing (notwithstanding)

i'naNppe=hnaN                      ?i'=bi=ama.
they only (habitually) fearing him they gave it to him, they say
11 JOD 1890:22.1-2

Whatever animal they killed, being always in fear of him, they gave it
to him (they say).

This is a sentence from the story of the Deer-Taker monster.

Here simple da'daN modifies a noun.

I think that eshtewaN is essentially a rarer variety of what Bob calls a
perfect marker, i.e., a subordinating conjunction in aN, which he suggests
is a characteristic of OP syntax.

The same is perhaps present in =hnaN, the habitual or exclusivity marker.


ZhiNthe'=ha,      eda'daN ?itha=i=         the=di,
elder brother VOC what    they speak of it when

e'   thashtaN=b=azhi               e'=gaN,
that they not stopping speaking of HAVING

e'   uhe'=hnaN=i,                   a=bi=ama.
that they only (habitually) follow, he said (they say)

11 JOD 1890:38.10

"O elder brother, whatever they speak of [or, when they speak of
a(ny)thing], their way is to speak of it ceaselessly [or, is to gum it to
death]," he said.

Here eda'daN stands on its own, not modifying a noun.

The typical e=gaN HAVING (Dorsey's gloss) subordinator,


INda'daN aNgui'thitha=tta=i=the thiNge'          e'=gaN,
what     we shall tell you      there is nothing it is like that

they said (they say)

11 JOD 1890:40.2

"There is nothing we could tell you," they said, they say.

INda'daN stands on its own, but whereas eda'daN had a specific referent,
here there is the denial of any reference.


While these three examples outline what I believe to be the basic pattern,
lest I get too cocky, there are cases like:

Da'daN=shteshte thana'?aN e'=iN=the
what   soever   you heard it PERHAPS

iNwiN'dha=i=ga, a'=bi=amaI
tell me (IMPm)     he said (they say)

11 JOD 1890:39.17

"You-all tell me whatever you have heard!" he said (they say).

You may be beginning to wonder about that tell verb.  It's u(g)itha, a
dative.  Also, the =iN= in PERHAPS is (perhaps) the particle that surfaces
in the iN grade of the Teton ablaut system before the future.


KHage', iNda'daN=shteshte iNwiNtha=i=ga hau, a'=bi=ama
Friend! whatsoever        tell me!           he said (they say)

11 JOD 1890:40.5-6

"Friend!  Tell me whatever it is!" he said (they say).

One could argue that there's the issue of degree of indefiniteness to
distinguish the two cases, but strictly speaking the, perhaps, it should
be eda'daN the first time?  Notice that the two examples occur within a
few lines of each other, too.  They are essentially variants of each

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