Where's where

Scott DeLancey delancey at DARKWING.UOREGON.EDU
Mon Mar 21 18:05:07 UTC 2005

On Sat, 19 Mar 2005, David Gil wrote:

> Hence this call: please send me examples of languages in which (you are
> sure that) the phenomenon of 'where' or some other content interrogative
> word being used to express emphatic negation is NOT present.  One such
> language is English.

Not quite sure about that.  In English all the WH- words can be spoken
with a specific "incredulous" intonation contour to express disbelief
of a proposition:  What?!?   In response to a statement "I know somebody
who's good friends with the President", one could reply "Who?" with
ordinary intonation, which is a request for information, or with an
abrupt falling intonation that clearly expresses doubt about the truth
of the statement.  Not quite negation per se, but I imagine this kind
of thing is the origin of some of the more thoroughly grammaticalized
examples that have been offered.

Scott DeLancey
Department of Linguistics
1290 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1290, USA

delancey at darkwing.uoregon.edu

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