Darwin-L Message Log 6:2 (February 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.

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<6:2>From hantuo@utu.fi  Tue Feb  1 03:53:02 1994

To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: hantuo@utu.fi (Hanna Tuomisto)
Subject: Re: Who, what, where, when, etc.
Date: 	Tue, 1 Feb 1994 12:01:06 +0200

Here's an addition to the lists of interrogative words. These come from
Finnish, which is not an Indo-european language. We seem to have two series
of these words, one beginning with k- and the other beginning with mi-. In
addition, there is a series of words that answer these questions, mainly
beginning with si-.

kuka       who
kumpi      which (out of two)
koska      when
kuinka     how

mika       what, which (out of many)   se         it
missa      where                       siella     there
milloin    when                        silloin    then
miksi      why                         siksi      because
miten      how                         siten      in such a way

As far as I can see, the k-series consists of more or less independent
words, while the mi-series consists of the different cases of the word
mika, and the si-series consists of the different cases of the word se.
Consequently, the mi- and si- series can be considerably lengthened by
using the rest of the available sixteen cases.

As to the interrogative intonation, Finnish has none. All questions are
formed either by the words mentioned above, or in case of yes-no questions
by adding the postfix -ko to the verb, but the intonation remains the same.
I still remember the despair of our (originally British) English teacher at
elementary school; it was very hard to make the pupils grasp the idea of
interrogative intonation.

As to chimp sign boards, I think Craig McConnell may be right: if the
chimps were never given a chance to ask questions, it's difficult to tell
whether they actually would have had the capacity to do so. Correct me if
I'm mistaken, but I recall from somewhere that chimps that were taught the
sign language used by deaf people were able to understand and formulate
questions. Unfortunately I do not have any reference on this; if anyone
does, please let me know.

Hanna Tuomisto

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