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Re: Embedded Interrogatives

From:Matt Pearson <mpearson@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 27, 1999, 17:53
Jim Grossmann asked:

>Are embedded interrogative complements (e.g. I asked him WHAT HE SAW. It >was WHERE HE WENT that puzzles me.) common cross-linguistically? Or would >including them in my conlang make it a euroclone?
My personal feeling is that embedded interrogative complements are not a strictly European feature, but I admit I haven't looked into the matter. Kou and co.: What do Chinese and Japanese do? Some languages, it seems, make use of headless relative clauses where English uses embedded interrogatives. Malagasy does this, for example: ny vehivavy izay hitany the woman WH saw-3 "the woman who he saw" izay hitany WH saw-3 "(the one/thing) who/that he saw" Nanontany tena aho izay hitany asked self I WH saw-3 "I wondered who/what he saw" Here, "izay" is a sort of generic wh-operator, similar to "qui" or "ce qui" in French (except that "qui" in French also means "who", whereas "izay" is not homophonous with any of the interrogative operators). The solution I adopted for Tokana is to have a construction whereby the interrogative word is modified by a relative clause: ne iha hielinna the woman that-he-saw "the woman that he saw" ne mioh hielinna the who that-he-saw "(the one) who he saw" lit. "the who that he saw" Ami nesepena mioh hielinna I asked-him who that-he-saw "I asked him who he saw" Since "mioh" means not only "who" but "someone", the second and third examples could also be translated "the someone that he saw" and "I asked him (for) someone that he saw". Thus, the question of whether or not Tokana has 'true' embedded interrogatives is left conveniently ambiguous, dependent on whether you construe "mioh" in its interrogative or indefinite usage here... Matt. ------------------------------------ Matt Pearson UCLA Linguistics Department 405 Hilgard Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90095-1543 ------------------------------------