1 Overview
The subject-matter of this book are the formal and semantic properties of INDEFINITE PRONOUNS, expressions such as those highlighted in (1)-(4), in the languages of the world.
(1) English
Someone once said that anything goes.
(2) Italian
Nessuno ha mai detto questo.
nobody has ever said that
'Nobody has ever said that.'
(3) Russian
Kto ugodno možet prijti.
who INDEF can come
'Anyone can come.'
(4) Japanese
Dare-ka ni ki-ite mi-masyoo.
who-INDEF DAT ask-CONV try-POL:HORT
'Let's ask somebody.'

Indefinite pronouns have traditionally played only a minor role in descriptive linguistics, but the theoretical work in semantics, pragmatics, and syntax of the last few decades has shown that the distribution of indefinite pronouns is highly complex and interesting in many ways. These theoretical discussions have often used the narrower terms QUANTIFIERS or NEGATIVE POLARITY ITEMS for certain subclasses of indefinite pronouns.

This book gives a comprehensive overview of the main theoretical debates concerning the semantic and syntactic properties of indefinite pronouns. Its major original contributions are a large-scale cross-linguistic study of indefinite pronouns (see especially Chapter 4 and Appendix A) and a detailed investigation of the diachronic sources of the markers of indefinite pronouns (Chapters 6-8). This rich factual material is brought to bear on the issues that have been present in the literature. The new generalizations that emerge from the typological and diachronic study are discussed and explanations are provided. Throughout the book, particular emphasis is put on links between the formal properties of indefinite pronouns and their functional (semantic and syntactic) properties.

In Chapter 21 give a brief introduction to the goals and methods of the typological approach that is applied in this book. Typological work presupposes cross- linguistically applicable concepts, so a definition of 'indefinite pronoun' that is

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