query: Where are you going?

Claire Bowern claire.bowern at YALE.EDU
Thu Jun 2 14:41:43 UTC 2011

In Bardi (bcj, Nyulnyulan) the usual greeting is "anggi jawal" - lit 'what
news', but I've also been greeted with "janabooroongan arr mindan?" (where
are you going?), only when passing on the street though, but still in the
sense of a greeting, not a direct interrogative. In this language it's kind
of rude to ask a lot of direct questions, so the literal 'where are you
going' question is usually asked by making a statement, e.g. 'you're going
to the shop now?' I'd argue in these cases that the appellative notion comes
from the intonation. These days people also say 'gorna mooyoon' "Good
morning", which is calqued from English.

On Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 10:32 AM, Wolfgang Schulze <
W.Schulze at lrz.uni-muenchen.de> wrote:

>  Dear all,
> just to add one comment: David has labeled the "mau [pergi] ke mana"-type a
> "greeting". If we assume that a 'greeting' entails a an appellative,
> addressing function ['wish' etc.] such as Bavarian [gryes eana go:t], Engl.
> 'hallo', Lat. 'salve(te)', Russ. zdravstvujte, Classical Arabic a-s-sal:amu
> \alaykum/-ka/-ki etc. it would be difficult to subsume the mau ke
> mana-formula under this type. Actually, I do not know whether mau ke mana
> etc. are accompanied by an additional/preceding deictic or 'addressing'
> gesture or phrase/lexeme, but I guess that it would be odd to use the phrase
> without indicating some kind of attentional attitude towards the addressee.
> I'm left with the impression that the function of the mau ke mana-type
> rather is that of 'handing over the power of speaking' to the addressee. The
> question mode adds the notion of  curiosity and interest of the speaker also
> symbolizing the speaker's 'ignorance'. The addressee is thus put into a
> position that allows them to construe themselves as being temporarily
> superior to the speaker (by 'answering' the question).
> The event image used in the corresponding formula may dwell upon various
> source domains most of them ending up in target domains that share the
> feature [state/condition] etc. In fact, the metaphorization of motion verbs
> seems to be a very common paradigm, as illustrated by both David's and
> Paolo's examples. It's a fascinating stuff when looking for the origin of
> such expressions. For instance, in French the expression "comment vas-tu"
> has (to my knowledge!) originally been used in reference towards 'bathroom'
> (and its precursors), meaning: "What does your 'going to the toilet' tell
> [us] about your health'? Such allusions to the state of health are very
> common, compare Syrian Arabic shlo:nak 'how is your color?', meaning 'how is
> the color of your face?'. I wonder which is the type of motion event the mau
> ke mana-type has developed from.
> Best wishes,
> Wolfgang
> Am 02.06.2011 15:45, schrieb Paolo Ramat:
> French "comment vas-tu ?" and "comment ça va?" , Germ.  "wie geht's dir ?"
> are the most familiar cases of movement verbs used in greetings (vs. Span.
> "còmo estàs?" [accents are not correct in e-mail characters and the inverted
> interrogative sign is also missing] It.  "come stai?" , lit. 'how do you
> stay?')
> Prof.Paolo Ramat
> Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori (IUSS )
> Direttore del Centro "Lingue d'Europa: tipologia, storia e
> sociolinguistica" (LETiSS)
> Viale Lungo Ticino Sforza 56
> 27100 Pavia
> tel. ++390382375811
> fax ++390382375899
> -----Messaggio originale----- From: David Gil
> Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 1:24 PM
> Subject: query: Where are you going?
> Dear all,
> One of the most common greetings in many languages of mainland and
> insular Southeast Asia is a phrase whose literal meaning is "Where are
> you going?", eg. Thai /pai nai?/, Indonesian /mau ke mana?/  Crucially,
> it is not necessarily meant to be taken literally, any more than the
> English "How do you do?", and the most appropriate response will
> typically be something vague and non-committal, such as "just walking"
> I am interested in mapping the geographical distribution of the "Where
> are you going?" greeting.  I would thus be grateful for information from
> as many languages as possible, answering the simple question:
> In language(s) that you are familiar with, is "Where are you going?" (or
> an alternative "Where are you coming from?") used as a common greeting,
> without necessarily being meant to be taken literally as an expression
> of interest in the direction of the addressee's movements?
> I am equally interested in negative data, asserting that your language
> does not have such a usage, as I am in data of a positive nature.
> In addition to confirming the presence of this greeting thoughout
> mainland and insular Southeast Asia, I am particularly interested in
> ascertaining the geographical boundaries of the greeting, to the west in
> the Indian subcontinent, to the north in China and Northeast Asia, and
> to the east and south, in New Guinea and Australia.  I am also
> interested to find out whether it occurs in other parts of the world, or
> whether it unique to Southeast Asia.  (A recent trip to Ethiopia
> suggests that it might also be found there.)
> Looking forward to your responses,
> Thanks,
> David
> --
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> *Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze                                *
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> Institut für Allgemeine & Typologische Sprachwissenschaft
> Dept. II / F 13
> Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
> Ludwigstraße 25
> D-80539 München
> Tel.: 0049-(0)89-2180-2486
> (Secretary)
>          0049-(0)89-2180-5343
> (Office)
> Fax:  0049-(0)89-2180-5345
> Email: W.Schulze at lrz.uni-muenchen.de /// Wolfgang.Schulze at lmu.de
> Web: http://www.ats.lmu.de/index.html
> Personal homepage: http://www.wolfgangschulze.in-devir.com
> ----------------------------------------------------------
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Claire Bowern
Associate Professor
Department of Linguistics
Yale University
370 Temple St
New Haven, CT 06511
North American Dialects survey:
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