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'

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