Darwin-L Message Log 5:228 (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.

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<5:228>From GOLLAV@axe.humboldt.edu  Mon Jan 31 02:40:57 1994

Date: Mon, 31 Jan 1994 00:51 PST
From: GOLLAV@axe.humboldt.edu
Subject: Re: Who, what, where, when, etc.
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Here's some more data.  In Hupa, an Athabaskan language of Northwest
California, the interrogative-indefinite pronouns form a phonologically
marked set very much like the IE *KW- forms:

                diy-di  "what?"        diy-who'  "something"
                dan-di  "who?"         dang-who'  "someone"
                daay-di "where?"       daay-who'  "somewhere"
                daxwee-di  "how?"      (no parallel form)
                danLang-di "how many?" ( "    "      "  )

There are parallel forms in some other Athabaskan languages, although it
is unclear if these  d- formations go back to Proto-Athabaskan.  In any
event, I suspect that these are more likely to be analogical reformations
than reflections of some "interrogative/indefinite" proto-morpheme *d-.
I also suspect that analogical sets of this sort are not uncommon, and that
the IE *KW- formations ultimately have such an origin.

This is akin to the sound symbolism I was going on about a week or so ago.
Phenomena like these are partly historical (at recent time-depths, at least)
and partly psychological.  The further back you go--the broader the sample
of languages--the less important the historical component becomes.

--Victor Golla
  Humboldt State University
  Arcata, California 95521
  gollav @ axe.humboldt.edu

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