By Martin Haspelmath
This publication is the 1st entire and encyclopaedic research of indefinite pronouns (expressions like someone, whatever, nowhere) within the languages of the area. It indicates that the diversity of version within the useful and formal houses of indefinite pronouns is topic to a suite of common implicational constraints, and proposes motives for those universals.
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Extra info for Indefinite Pronouns
C) Superordinate negation Dhen pistevo p o s k a n in a s trthe. 1), or other specialized indefinites. Thus Russian -ni^nd’-indefinites cannot be used in sentences like (95u-c), and Lithuanian norsindefinites cannot be used for direct negation as in (95n). We can now summarize the contexts where specific and non-specific indefinite phrases are allowed, as in Fig. 1. In one type of contexts, only specific indefinites are possible, in another type both are possible but there is a meaning difference, and in a third type, only non-specific indefinite phrases are allowed.
A good example is provided by English somebody, something, sometime, someplace, anybody, etc. ^ Another example is provided by Hebrew is, discussed in Glincrt (1982:46Q-1). This is both a noun (‘man’) and an indefinite pronoun (‘anyone’), so one might ask whether these are really two different items (with is ‘anyone, no one’ derived from is ‘man’) The answer is yes: that iS ‘anyone, no one’ is a separate lexical item is shown by three syntactic facts: (i) is ‘anyone, no one’ is restricted to negativepolarity contexts (cf.
The derived nature of indefinite pronouns is one of the cross-linguistic observations that call for an explanation. Let us briefly examine possible exceptions to the rule that if there is a basicderived relation (in the sense of Bybee 1985: 50) between interrogatives and indefinites, it is always the indefinites which are derived. 3). ^ In the Australian language Ngiyambaa (Donaldson 1980:148-50), interrogative/indefinite roots must be combined with special sentential markers both when used as inteiTogatives and when used as indefinites.
Indefinite Pronouns by Martin Haspelmath