where > relativizer?

Denis Creissels Denis.Creissels at UNIV-LYON2.FR
Thu Oct 22 09:23:53 UTC 2009

I do not think that Bambara min is a good example, because in other Manding dialects (Mandinka, for example), the relativizer and the interrogative ‘where?’ have distinct forms, which suggests that the coincidence observed in Bambara is accidental. Moreover, even in Bambara, min (relativizer) and min ‘where?’ do not have the same tonal properties..


In fact, the most probable hypothesis about the origin of the Manding relativizer is that it developed from a demonstrative. The strongest evidence comes from dialects spoken in Ivory Coast. In addition to the two demonstratives found in other Manding dialects, those dialects have a third demonstrative whose form entirely coincides (including its tonal properties) with that of the relativizer.


Denis Creissels



De : Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG] De la part de Thomas Blecke
Envoyé : jeudi 22 octobre 2009 11:09
Objet : Re: where > relativizer?


Bambara (Mande) mín is a case in point: 
í bá táará mín?   'your mother went where?'
n yé fàlí mín sàn,...   'the donkey which I bought, ...' (I PERFV donkey which buy)

Thomas Blecke

peterarkadiev wrote: 

Dear colleagues,
According to the dictionary of Lithuanian language (http://www.lkz.lt/startas.htm), the wh-word *kur*, whose basic meaning is 'where', can in some dialects be used as a general relativizer similar to English *that*. Cf. a nice example where this word is used both to form a question about location, and to relativize the subject:
Kur tas piemuo, kur gano šitas kiaules?
where that(NOM.SG) shepherd(NOM.SG) who pasture(PRS.3) pig(ACC.PL)
'Where is that shepherd, who (lit. where) pastures pigs?'
I wonder whether this or similar kinds of polysemy are attested cross-linguistically.
Thanks a lot!
With best wishes,
Peter Arkadiev
Institute of Slavic Studies
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