conditionals & polar interrogatives

Richard Madsen norrv at HUM.AU.DK
Tue May 17 12:57:05 UTC 2005

Dear Daan,

as to your question (a), I too - being a native speaker of Hungarian -
wonder what might constitute an interrogative-like conditional in
Hungarian. Nothing in modern Hungarian that could be an example comes to
my mind. For interrogatives have no special structure (compared to
declaratives) with the exception of indirect yes/no questions, in which an
"-e" is suffixed to the finite element of the predicate. However, this
"-e" has - to my knowledge - no other function in the modern language.
Likewise, the marker of the Conditional Mood "-na/ne" seems to have
nothing to do with interrogatives.

Best regards

Daan Van den Nest <Daan.VandenNest at UGENT.BE> den fredag 13. maj 2005 kl.
14:18 +0000 skrev:
>Dear LingTyp members,
>I wonder whether you could give me information on formal similarities
>conditionals and interrogatives in the languages of the world. It is
>that there are conditional constructions in some languages whose protasis
>the same marking or internal structure as (polar) interrogatives, as in
>following examples:
>-Hua (Haiman 1978)
>(1a) interrogative	Esive?	“Will he come?”
>(1b) conditional	E	-si -ve	        baigu		-e
>			come	3sg.FUT	INT	will-stay	1sg.
>			“If he will come, I will stay.”
>(2a) interrogative	Scheint die Sonne? “Does the sun shine? / Is the sun
>                        shining?”
>(2b) conditional	Scheint    die  Sonne,(so/dann)	gehen wir 	baden.
>			shine.INFL the	sun,   so/then	go    we	bath
>			“If the sun shines / is shining, (then) we go for a
>                        swim.”
>The aim of my current research is to find as many languages as possible
>have grammaticalized conditionals with interrogative marking (regardless
>whether the marker is a particle as in Hua, a word-order pattern as in
>etc.), and hopefully to identify some relevant genetic, areal or
>patterns. The languages or language families mentioned in the literature
>which I am aware amount to the following list:
>-Portugese, French (Romance)
>-Russian, Polish (Slavic; Russian jesli 'if' < jest 'it is' + li 'INT')
>-Serbo-Croat (Slavic)
>-Hungarian, Vogul (Uralic)
>-Turkish (Altaic)
>-Hua (Papuan)
>-Tzotzil (Mayan)
>I have also looked at grammars of some 90 non-Indo-European languages,
>but found
>nothing. This may reflect an areal or genetic bias but may just as well
>be due
>to the fact that interrogative marking in conditionals often seems to be a
>colloquial alternative to other, specialized conditional marking and may
>therefore fail to be included in the grammars.
>Now, my questions are the following:
>(a) Is the above list correct? As to Hungarian, for instance, a native
>informant has denied the existance of interrogative-like conditionals,
>to what is claimed in the literature.
>(b) Are you aware of any other languages that have grammaticalized
>marked like interrogatives? Could you give me examples, preferably of an
>interrogative and a conditional, and perhaps even references? Can these
>constructions be used for all sorts of conditional relationships or only
>some? (e.g. only for non-realis relationships, or only in the deontic,
>or illocutionary linkage domain as described by Eve Sweetser?)
>(c) Are you aware of any typological parameters that determine whether
>interrogatives / interrogative markers are grammaticalized as
>conditionals /
>conditional markers?
>Thank you in advance and kind regards
>Daan Van den Nest (Ghent University, Belgium)

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