Original scientific article
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From nominalizations to questions – Evidence from Tucanoan

Dmitry Idiatov
University of Antwerp

Johan van der Auwera
University of Antwerp

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Abstract: This paper examines question formation in the Tucanoan languages of South America from a comparative and diachronic point of view. We argue that these languages exhibit a historical and semantic relationship between nominalizations and questions. Our hypothesis is primarily based on the formal identity of their markers and on the fact that the interrogative verbal forms resemble nominalizations being formally less finite than their declarative counterparts because they lack the normal subject agreement suffixes. We claim that the interrogative verbal forms originate from nominalized predications used to form an inferential or mirative construction that were upgraded to the status of independent utterances through copula deletion. Semantically, the interrogative meaning must have become conventionalized via stages expressing doubt or surprise.
Keywords:
Tucanoan languages, South America, nominalization, finiteness, interrogative markers, questions, evidentiality, mirativity, historical linguistics, copula deletion, interrogative construction, verbal affixes, interrogative suffix,
Article data in other languages: Croatian