[Lingtyp] undifferentiated interrogative words

Ilana Mushin i.mushin at uq.edu.au
Thu Aug 27 00:27:43 UTC 2020

Some Australian languages have words that conflate ‘what’ and ‘who’, and then additionally can use case marking to cover areas such as location ‘where’, or reason (‘why’). These patterns are surveyed in Mushin, I 1995 Epistememes in Australian Languages. Australian Journal of Linguistics.

Associate Professor Ilana Mushin
Reader in Linguistics
President, Australian Linguistic Society

[/var/folders/lv/m77kqy0n4x1_rcd3pk0j2n900000gq/T/com.microsoft.Outlook/WebArchiveCopyPasteTempFiles/il.pb.png]Co-Editor, Interactional Linguistics (https://benjamins.com/catalog/il)

School of Languages and Cultures
University of Queensland
St Lucia, QLD 4072.
Ph: (07) 3365 6810

CRICOS Provider No: 00025B

I acknowledge the Jagera and Turrbal peoples on whose land I live and work. Their sovereignty was never ceded.

From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of "hoelzlandreas at web.de" <hoelzlandreas at web.de>
Date: Thursday, 27 August 2020 at 7:25 am
To: Jan Rijkhoff <linjr at cc.au.dk>
Cc: Linguistic Typology <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] undifferentiated interrogative words

Dear all,

Sorry for the late response to this interesting question. Apart from the studies already mentioned, this question has also been addressed, among several others, in the following works:

Cysouw, Michael. 2005. The typology of content interrogatives. Paper presented at Assiociation for Linguistic Typology, 21–25 July 2005, Padang.
Cysouw, Michael. 2007. Content interrogatives in Pichis Ashéninca: Corpus study and typological comparison. International Journal of American Linguistics 73(2). 133–163.
Hengeveld, Kees, Maria Luiza Braga, Elisiene de Melo Barbosa, Jaqueline Silveira Coriolano, Juliana Jezuino da Costa, Mariana de Souza Martins, Diego Leite de Oliveira,
Vinicius Maciel de Oliveira, Luana Gomes Pereira, Liliane Santana, Cassiano Luiz do Carmo Santos & Viviane dos Ramos Soares. 2012. Semantic categories in the indigenous languages of Brazil. Functions of Language 19(1). 38–57.
Hölzl, Andreas. 2018. A typology of questions in Northeast Asia and beyond. An ecological perspective (Studies in Diversity Linguistics 20). Berlin: Language Science Press.
Nau, Nicole. 1999. Was schlägt der Kasus? Zu Paradigmen und Formengebrauch von Interrogativpronomen. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 2. 130–150.

Generally, it is necessary to distinguish between two different scenarios: the polysemy of an interrogative (e.g., meaning both 'who' and 'what') and the derivation of one interrogative from another (e.g., 'which-LOC/place > where'). The former seems to be less frequent than the latter, but both can be described with a conceptual space/semantic map developed by Cysouw that I slightly modified in my book from 2018. This conceptual space may be in need of an update but already captures many possible developments and possible polysemies.

Hope this is of some help.



Gesendet: Donnerstag, 20. August 2020 um 09:29 Uhr
Von: "Jan Rijkhoff" <linjr at cc.au.dk>
An: "Peter Arkadiev" <peterarkadiev at yandex.ru>, "Linguistic Typology" <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Betreff: Re: [Lingtyp] undifferentiated interrogative words
Dear Peter,

on this topic see also e.g.

Mackenzie, J. Lachlan. 2009. Content interrogatives in a sample of 50 languages. Lingua 119-8, 1131-1161.

Best, Jan R

J. Rijkhoff - Associate Professor, Linguistics
School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University
Jens Chr. Skous Vej 2, Building 1485-621
DK-8000 Aarhus C, DENMARK
Phone: (+45) 87162143
URL: http://pure.au.dk/portal/en/linjr@cc.au.dk

From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Peter Arkadiev <peterarkadiev at yandex.ru>
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2020 8:47 PM
To: Linguistic Typology
Subject: [Lingtyp] undifferentiated interrogative words

Dear typologists,

as is well-known, there are many languages lacking a distinction between "animate" and "inanimate" interrogative words (see the doctoral dissertation by Dmitry Idiatov), e.g. Lithuanian "kas" means both 'who' and 'what'. I am wondering if there are any languages where interrogative words don't distinguish between such ontological categories as "place", "time" and "manner", e.g. have a single interrogative word which, depending on the context, can mean "when", "where", "how" and the like.

Many thanks in advance and best regards,


Idiatov, Dmitry. 2007. A Typology of Non-Selective Interrogative Pronominals. PhD Dissertation, Universiteit Antwerpen.

Peter Arkadiev, PhD Hab.
Institute of Slavic Studies
Russian Academy of Sciences
Leninsky prospekt 32-A 119334 Moscow
peterarkadiev at yandex.ru

Lingtyp mailing list
Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Lingtyp mailing list
Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20200827/8ca37764/attachment.htm>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: image001.png
Type: image/png
Size: 60628 bytes
Desc: image001.png
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20200827/8ca37764/attachment.png>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list