tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Jan 01 00:57:05 2002

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Re: QAO (was: I had an idea, I don't know how...)

jatlh Sean:

>Perhaps he simply thought it should be intuitive that questions words can
>act as relative pronouns.

jang SuStel:

>Or maybe he thought it should be intuitive that question words cannot act 
>relative pronouns.  You can see where that sort of argument gets us.
>The lack of any such usage by Okrand, and the lack of any such explanation,
>would seem to tip the "there's no rule about it" situation in favor of
>question words not being used as relative pronouns.

I must agree with SuStel on this. AFAIK, linguistically the relative 
pronouns and the interrogative pronouns are different words. European 
languages tend to use the same words for both purposes:

French: Qui est allé? (Who has gone?)
versus  Je sais l'homme qui est allé. (I know the man who has gone.)

(English, Finnish, Italian and German also do this.)

However, this is by no means universal. Wolof (Senegal) has /gu/ for 
relative and /jumaa/ for interrogative, and in !Kung San (Namibia), the 
interrogative pronoun appears in questions, and a different device entirely 
is used for the relative clause:

hatshe ba ?'a:ma n!ei? (What does the snake bite?)
(ba = interrogative pronoun)

zhú g!ai na o mi ba (the man who hunts is my father)
(ba = father)

If Dr O was going to leave something to intuition, as a linguist, he'd 
probably have left the interrogative pronouns as just that, and left the 
relative pronouns as non-entities. Circumlocution is a useful skill in this 
situation: "my father is the man which hunts" might work; "my father hunts", 
"that man is my father, and he hunts" or even "Do you know that hunter? He 
is my father".

Of course, there's nothing to say that there mightn't be other suffixes or 
words revealed in the future that might fit our problems; but chances are 
that the suffixes we have are all we'll ever get.

>You can do some pretty ridiculous things when following the book exactly as

Does this remind anyone else of Noam Chomsky's statement "Colourless green 
ideas sleep furiously"? :)

Qapla' 'ej Satlho'


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