A typology of non-selective interrogative pronominals: formal and functional differentiation and issues in diachrony

Abstract : In this talk I present a typology of non-selective interrogative pronominals, that is forms such as English who? and what? For purposes of crosslinguistic comparison, I define the non-selective interrogative pronominals WHO? and WHAT? as idealizations resulting out of the interaction between several parameters (viz. entity type, type of reference, and expected answer) within a single conceptual space. Thus, WHO? is an interrogative pronominal asking for the identification of a person and expecting a proper name as an answer. WHAT? is an interrogative pronominal asking for the classification of a thing and expecting a common noun as an answer. I discuss the crosslinguistic diversity in the domain of the non-selective interrogative pronominals as regards: (i)the universality of their formal differentiation (ii)the patterns of their functional differentiation in languages where they are distinguished formally. I pay particular attention to the use of WHO? in questions about the identification of things that expect a proper name as an answer and the use of non-selective interrogative pronominals in questions about non-human animates. The talk will highlight the role of diachronic explanations in typology. Finally, with respect to diachrony, I will address some of the common assumptions on the issue of the diachronic stability of non-selective interrogative pronominals.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01481314
Contributor : Dmitry Idiatov <>
Submitted on : Friday, March 3, 2017 - 2:46:29 PM
Last modification on : Friday, January 4, 2019 - 5:33:05 PM

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Dmitry Idiatov. A typology of non-selective interrogative pronominals: formal and functional differentiation and issues in diachrony. Recherches actuelles en typologie linguistique de l’Asie orientale, Mar 2014, Paris, France. ⟨halshs-01481314⟩

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