Заявка на публикацию

Срочная публикация научной статьи

+7 995 770 98 40
+7 995 202 54 42

Semantic categories of interrogative pronouns

Поделитесь статьей с друзьями:
Автор(ы): Sarieva Zamira
Рубрика: Филологические науки
Журнал: «Евразийский Научный Журнал №5 2022»  (май, 2022)
Количество просмотров статьи: 502
Показать PDF версию Semantic categories of interrogative pronouns

Sariyeva Zamira Ravilevna
Teacher at English language teaching methodology department


Interrogative pronouns can be divided into semantic categories such as person, subject, possessor, tool, place, quality, quantity, time, manner, reason, and others. Semantic category corresponds to the category of the word, which refers to the interrogative pronoun. Not necessarily all categories presented in all languages. Some parts may be absent, or combined into a larger category. Semantic categories in different languages are arranged in different ways, which is associated with features of the grammar of that particular language.

Categories of Object and Person

This class includes such pronouns corresponding the questions as: who? what?

The expression of animate being.

Contrasting person vs object — compare of animate being and inanimate one. Such opposition is found almost everywhere, even in languages with weak opposition on animate subject. It is believed that the following statement is close to universal: “The interrogative pronouns show the dichotomy man vs. non-human or, more rarely, animate vs. inanimate.” However, there are languages in which there is no opposition to this, for example, in the languages of the Terena kuti ’who / what?’ and Guarequena Language iʃi ’who / what?’

On the other hand, it is possible to imagine a fractionally animation category, such as in the language of the Poop. Different sources give different analysis of interrogative pronouns categoriesof ‘Person / Subject’ in this language.

Animate creature vs. non-referential object vs. object (place).

Interrogatives are almost always marked for humanness. As for example for the languages that do not mark the distinction between persons and things, Khasi and Latvian languages ( Ultan, 1978; Nau 1998: 453). In addition, interrogatives sometimes encode the features cause, size, type, and degree, and they frequently express a pragmatic feature that one might call selective reference (Nau 1998; Givón, 1990: 794). Selective interrogatives indicate that the hearer has to choose the referent from a contextually determined set. For instance, English ‘which’ is a selective question word because it “implies that the choice is made from a limited number of alternatives” (Quirk, 1985:369).

Expression of number

In some languages, the distinction occur in pronoun “who?” singular and plural. Examples of such languages are Finnish (kuka? — Ketkä? ’Who?’And mikä? — Mitkä? ’What?’), Uzbek ‘kim’ “who” (singular); ‘kimlar’ “who” (plural); ‘nima’ “what” (singular), ‘nimalar’ “what” (plural). And Turkish ‘kim ?’ (singular) — ‘kimler?’ (plural) ’Who?’And Ne? (singular)Neler? (plural) ’What?’

The expression of gender

There are languages that distinguish masculine and feminine gender in the interrogative pronouns relating to the category of person. This phenomenon is found, for example, in Tamil (eval — ’Who? (Of men)’ and evan — ’Who? (Women)’) and house (wānẹ̄ - ’Who? (Of men)’ and wācẹ̄ - ’who ? (women) .

Expression of politeness

Some languages may express politeness using interrogative pronouns. For example, in Tamil, along with pronouns ’who?’ for women and men, there is a pronoun ‘evar’, common to both genders, expressing reverence for the person who is potentially subject matter. The Japanese are a few degrees of politeness:  Daray ’who (neutral)?’ -  donokata and  Donata ’who (politely)?’ -  subsidized-sama ’who (more politely)?’.

Categories of possessor and tools

The category of possessor in pronouns indicate that a person is the owner of a particular subject, and the speaker wants to identify that person. In Russian language it is denoted by mean of pronouns: “чей?” and “кого?” (whose? and whom?) in sentences like: ’Whose book?’.

In the category of instrument pronoun indicate that some action has been committed by an unknown object, and the speaker wants to identify the object. In the Russian language is the pronoun “чем?” " how?".

In the paper by M. Sisou on the theme of typology of interrogative pronouns noted that special forms for these categories were found. In allof the languages they are case forms of pronouns categories of person and subject, respectively. However, this view does not match the Russian pronoun whose ?, obviously not related to the pronoun who ?.

Category of Location

In addition pronoun ’where?’ in many languages found other pronouns denoting the category of location, but most of them have the meaning ’ from where?’ and ’ to where?’. Some languages after the development of the system locative of cases have several types of interrogative pronouns corresponding the meaning “where?”. For example: Lezgi language distinguishes six pronouns of this type:

Pronoun / Meaning (Eng.)/ Case

ginag / hinag / ’where?’

giniz / hiniz / ’to where?’ (Dative)

ginin / hinin / ’where of’ (Genitive)

ginay / hinaj / ’where from ?’ (Elative)

gina / hina / ’were at’ (at some point in space)?’ (Adessive)

ginal / hinal / ’where on’ (on the upper surface)?’ (Superessive)

ginra / hinra / ’where in’ (inside)?’ (Inessive)

Category of Time

Pronouns of this category includes Russian. ‘Когда?‘when? And Uzbek ‘qachon?’ ‘when?’

In some languages there may be several categories of pronouns of time, but this is quite rare and the number of such pronouns is not big . For example, the language of Tuvalu:

aafea ’when’

anafea ’when (in the past)’

maafea ’when (now)’

Category of Number

In Russian, this class includes the pronoun ’сколько?’and Uzbek ‘qancha?’, ‘nechta?’. ’how much? , how many?’. Within the category of quantity in some languages there is a distinction between the real and concrete nouns reflected in the interrogative pronouns, such as in the English “how many?” (for countable nouns) and “how much?” ( for uncountable nouns), formed on the basis of pronoun “how” and category of action. However, there are languages in which such pronouns morphologically not related:

Language proper noun/ common nouns

Tagalog ilan /gaano

Tamil ettanai/ evvalavu

Vietnamese mây / bao nhiêu

Category: manner of action

In the Russian language this category include the pronoun ’как?’ /kɑk/ ’how?’ and question constructions ’в какой мере/степени?’, ’каким образом?’ /v kɑkɔj mere stepeni kɑkim ɔbrɔzɔm/ ’at what degree?’, ’how?’. There are languages which express the mode of action and measure / degree use different pronouns. For example, in Thai:

kin yaŋŋay

eat how

’How do you eat it?’

nàk thâwrày

heavy how.much

’Is it hard?’

This opposition is still not completely examined , but it appears that there is a close connection between the categories of measure / degree and number:

Language Mode of Action Measure / degree

Thai yaŋŋay mâak khέε nǎy thâwrày ( number)

Maybrat fiye tiya ( number)

Tagalog paano gaano ( number)

Danish hvordan hvor ( number)

Vietnamese thế nào như thế nào ( number)

Category of Quality

Examples for pronouns of Russian language in this class are: the question construction : ’что [это] за?’ /ʃtɔ ɛtɔ zɑ/ ’what kind of...?’ and interrogative pronoun ‘какой?’ /kɑkɔj/ ’what?, how?’ in certain contexts.

Pronouns in this category traditionally formed from other interrogative words (English. ‘What kind of’ German . ‘Was für ein’). The exception is Latin with the pronoun “qualis” and Vataman language with “gungarrma”, which in translation is often transmitted interrogative pronouns categories of quantity and method:

gungarrma madin

what.kind word.

’What kind is that word?’

Verbal interrogative pronouns

One of the linguistic phenomenon is the ability of interrogative pronouns in some languages be expressed by the verb. For example, in languag Tipéi, there are various interrogative pronouns, such as : maayiich ’what?’, Mawi ’what to do?’

maayiich-pe-m gaayiin aakatt-chu

’What did he use to cut a chicken?’

Formal features and word-formation types

The same formal elementsare often found in interrogative pronouns, such as the English: who, what, why. However, this is not a general feature, and find such examples outside the Indo-European languages is difficult. Basically interrogative pronouns are formed from different bases, such as language Vataman:

yinggiya ’who?’

ngamanda ’what?’

guda ’where?’

nyangurlang ’when?’

gungarrma ’that for?’, ’how?’, ’how much?’


Scheme of possible directions of derivation of semantic types in interrogative pronouns in the languages of the world exist certain rules of derivation of interrogative pronouns in the languages. For example: the category of person in pronouns almost never formed from a different category (exceptions: Utah Guarequena Language etc.). Also special pronoun is almost always used in the category of place (exceptions: Pirahã Language, Makushi etc.). Pronouns of the category of reason in most cases formed from the category of subject pronouns, but there are cases of forming from categories of mean and place.|5|


1. Annual review of applied linguistics 24 (pp. 109–125). Cambridge, England:Cambridge University Press

2. Gak.V.G (1977) “COMPARATIVE LEXICOLOGY (On a material French and Russian languages) “International Relations” Moscow.

3.GakV.G (1998 ) “Semantic structure of the word as a component of the semantic structure ofthe utterance”. // Language conversion. M .: Languages of Russian culture.

4. Kasymova N.F (2011) "Asymmetry in translation of interrogative sentences with question word ’WHAT’ (based on the English, Russian and Uzbek languages). Bulletin of the Chelyabinsk State University.№ 11 (226)

5. Ultan, Russell. (1978) “Some general characteristics of interrogative systems” Universals of Human Language.