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Embedded Interrogatives

From:Douglas Koller <laokou@...>
Date:Thursday, January 28, 1999, 12:08
Matt Pearson wrote:

> 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?
Clearly I don't have the terminology to describe what's going on here, so I'll just fling some examples at you. Save some pronoun tinkering, an indirect question looks the same as a direct question in Chinese. I asked him what he saw. Original question: Wo wen ta kan le shenmo. Ni kan le shenmo? I ask he see perf. what You see perf. what? (In fact, the former sentence is sometimes also written with a question mark -- Wo wen ta kan le shenmo? -- a convention I'm personally not into just 'cause, but there it is.) I interpreted Jim's second sentence two ways: Where he went puzzles me (I don't know where he went.); where he went puzzles me (where he went was a weird choice -- he said he needed aspirin but went to Lou's Bowl-o-rama). Where he went puzzles me. Original question: Wo bu xiaode ta dao na3li qu. Ta dao na3li qu? I not know/understand he to where go. He to where go? Where he went puzzles me. Original question: Wo bu qingchu ta weishenmo dao na4li qu.Ta weishenmo dao na4li qu? I not clear he why to there go. He why to there go? (na3li "where" and na4li "there" -- na3 "which" and na4 "that" [also possible as nei3 and nei4] are often written with the same character and you have to rely on context. na3, though, is increasingly written with the mouth radical to disambiguate.) ("qu na3/4li" instead of "dao na3/4li qu" is also an option) In Japanese: I asked him what he saw. Watashi wa kare ni nani o mita to kiita. I "topic" he "to" what "direct obj." saw "close a clause" asked. Original question: (Anata wa) nani o mita ka? (You wa) what o saw question particle? Where he went puzzles me. Watashi wa kare ga doko ni itta ka wakaranai. I wa he "subject" where to went ka not-know/understand. Original question: Kare wa doko ni itta ka? He wa where to went ka? Where he went puzzles me. Watashi wa kare ga naze asoko ni itta ka wakaranai. I wa he ga why there to went ka not-know/understand. Original question: Kare wa naze asoko ni itta ka? He wa why there to went ka? Although, like Chinese, interrogative words occupy the same grammatical slot in the sentence that the answer would, "naze" is usually fronted because the answer is itself a whole clause: "because..."/"...kara". I'm keeping it here so you get the general idea. Fronting "weishenmo" in Chinese is also possible, but I personally prefer the above sentences stylistically. And surely you wished to know about Ge'arthnuns. Ge'arthnuns uses the structure: "I asked him that he saw what."; "I don't know that he went where."; and "I don't understand that he went there why." Like the Asian model, interrogatives go in the same place the answer would. Fronting "why" (and other interrogatives) would only be done for extreme emphasis ("Why on God's green earth did he go there?!!"; "I asked him what the !@#$ he saw.") I asked him what he saw. Si' le' so"bo"k, gu" so"b le' chensat ho"itel sho, ne'c,af. I/nom. past him/dat., "that" he/nom. past what/acc. see-discoursive [end of clause marker], ask. Original question: O"c,ek le' chensat ho"tel? You/nom. past what/acc. see-interrogative Where he went puzzles me. Fi' la, gu" so"b le' vacher-ha ho"ikadiz sho, sferu"l. Neg.-I/nom. pres., "that" he/nom. past whither go/disc. [end-clause], know. Original question: So"b le' vacher-ha ho"kadiz? He/nom. past whither go/int. Where he went puzzles me. Fi' la, gu" so"b le' cha helkedi'nsav chelo"i ho"ikadiz sho, pac,i'en. Neg.-I/nom. pres., "that" he/nom. past the there/loc. why go/disc. [end-clause], understand. Original question: So"b le' cha helkedi'nsav chelo"i ho"kadiz? He/nom. past the there/loc. why go/int.? "chelo"i cha helkedi'nsav" is also possible, but again, no fronting unless you *really* mean it. Kou