What about how

Mon Mar 21 14:18:34 UTC 2005

My experience from Greek, Turkish or Hebrew is that pos, nasIl and eyx 'how'
(respectively) are used for countering utterances mainly when they include a
negation (Pos dhen theli!?! / NasIl iste-mi-yo !?! / Eyx lo rotse !?! 'What do
you mean "he doesn't want" !?!' meaning 'I'm sure he does / will'). This is
probably because the literal meaning of 'how' is more readily excluded by the
addressee when the utterance is negative (though rhetorical questions in any
case have different intonations). Note that this 'how' challenges not only
propositions but any type of modal utterance as well.

Quoting Alan Jones <alan.Jones at LING.MQ.EDU.AU>:

I see people are now listing languages -- like English -- that *cannot*
use WHERE to form an negative. If we broaden our focus to include
HOW, then we do have English expressions such as "How should I know?"
(= "I don't know and you should know better than to ask").

Does HOW ocur in other languages in this negative function?

My memory suggests that some Turkish speakers also use "nasil" (how) in
this way.

Another reason I ask is a morphological and semantic link between WHERE
and WHAT and WHICH and HOW in East Mekeo, a language I studied in the

ala lo-lao?    "Where are you going?"
au ala?         "Which man?" ("What man?" - ?)
ala koa         "What like?"  ("Like what?" and also "How?")


Dr Alan Jones,
Department of Linguistics,
Division of Linguistics & Psychology,
Macquarie University,
NSW 2109.

Building W3A, Room 409.
Tel. 61 2 9850 9664
Fax. 61 2 9850 7849
E-mail: ajones at ling.mq.edu.au
Web: http://www.ling.mq.edu.au/home/jones_alan/index.html

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