7 Further Sources of Indefinite Pronouns

This chapter deals with diachronic sources of indefinite pronouns that cannot be accounted for by grammaticalization. First I discuss indefinite pronouns marked by scalar focus particles like 'even' and 'at least' 7.1), and then I discuss and reject the possibility that the disjunctive conjunction 'or' may be used as an indefiniteness marker 7.2). In § 7.3 I look at bare interrogatives that are used as indefinites, and in § 7.4 I treat reduplicated indefinite pronouns. These last two types are not so common in European languages, but they are widespread elsewhere. Although I do not have a good explanation for the form-meaning relation in either of these form types, I formulate a number of interesting generalizations. Finally, § 7.5 deals with some further diachronic issues, such as the change from generic nouns and 'one' into indefinite pronouns, and the borrowing of indefinite pronouns.

7.1. Indefinite Pronouns Marked by Scalar Focus Particles

7.1.1. The facts

In many languages there are indefiniteness markers that are identical to scalar focus particles meaning 'even'. Since normal additive focus particles like 'also' often have a scalar value, too ( König 1991: 68), it is not necessary or even possible to strictly separate the meanings 'also' and 'even'. As a rule, when an indefiniteness marker is identical to a form that is glossed 'also' in a grammar or dictionary, I assume that its scalar use ('even') is responsible for its functioning as an indefiniteness marker. (Such particles often also have the meaning 'and', König 1991: 6-66.)

Below is a selection of such cases from a wide variety of languages (supplementing the earlier lists in Coyaud and Aït Hamou 1972; 1976; König 1991: 67; Gil 1993). In most cases, focus particles are added to interrogative pronouns.

(343) additive focus particles on interrogative pronouns

Serbian/Croatiani-ko 'anyone'i 'and, also, even'
Indonesiansiapa-pun 'anyone' -pun 'also, even'
Tagalogkahit na sino 'anyone'kahit (na) 'even'
Hittitekuiš-ki 'someone' -ki 'and, also'
Evenŋi-de 'someone' -dal-de 'and, also'
Kannadayaar-uu 'anyone' -uu 'and, also'
Ancash Quechuaima-pis 'anything' -pis 'also, even'


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Indefinite Pronouns


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 368

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?