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Darwin-L Message Log 5:222 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<5:222>From idavidso@metz.une.edu.au  Sun Jan 30 18:17:45 1994

Date: Mon, 31 Jan 1994 11:26:13 +0700
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: idavidso@metz.une.edu.au (Iain Davidson)
Subject: Re: Who, what, where, when, etc, Re: DARWIN-L digest 132

Scott DeLancey writes:

in reply to my question

>>Now we are getting somewhere?  Are there other families with
>>similar related sets of interrogative pronominals?  And if there are, where
>>are they and what is their history?
>
>Indeed there are others--I can think of a couple of examples offhand,
>and I suspect it's a pretty common pattern.  The history seems
>pretty straightforward--you have a single interrogative, meaning something
>like 'what' or 'which', and the others are constructed as this interrogative
>plus a noun establishing the appropriate domain, so you get 'which place'
>for 'where', 'which person' for 'who', etc.  As, for example, in Thai:
>
>        ?aray      'what'
>        khray      'who'             (cp. khon 'person')
>        myaray     'when'            (mya 'time, occasion')
>        thawray    'how much/many'   (thaw 'quantity')
>        yangray    'how'             (yang 'manner, way')
>
>        nay        'which'
>        thii nay   'where'           (thii 'place')
>        yangngay   'how'             (yang 'manner, way')

Thanks.  I think the hunt may be on.  Point is that the historical
linguistic stuff that was so roundly criticised before may be hugely
influence by the historical particularities of particular languages.  What
we have in these  interrogative pronominals is something that is a
fundamental feature of the behaviour of those creatures that first used
language.  Plotting their history and relationships might be a manageeable
and meaningful task.

Iain Davidson
Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology
University of New England
Armidale NSW 2351
AUSTRALIA
Tel (067) 732 441
Fax      (International) +61 67 73 25 26
                (Domestic)       067 73 25 26

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