grammaticalization of negatives/interrogatives

Nicholas Ostler nostler at CHIBCHA.DEMON.CO.UK
Wed Mar 9 13:55:06 UTC 2005

Dear Matti

Matti Miestamo wrote:

> I'd also be interested in any other cases of grammaticalization where a
> negative marker has developed into a question marker or vice versa.

Consider Quechua , where the -chu encltic marks Yes-No questions, but is
also a negative correlative marker.

away-ta yacha-nki-chu?
spinning-acc know-you-CHU.   Do you know how to spin?

ari, away-ta yacha-ni(-*chu)
yes, spinning-acc, know-I   Yes, I know how to spin.

mana away-ta yacha-ni-chu
not spinning-acc. know-I-CHU.   I don't know how to spin.

I don't know anything about the diachrony of this.

Nicholas Ostler

Foundation for Endangered Languages
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