Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Archive for the ‘Multiple-wh questions’ Category

Those Three Little Words, in 16 Languages

Posted by Neal on May 12, 2007

Faithful readers of this blog (and sporadic ones who happened to read just the right posts) know that I’ve been interested in questions that contain more than one wh-word. In the course of doing some research on them, I’ve been having a set of 24 questions translated into as many languages as I can find willing native speakers for. As a result, I can now say “Who read what?” in 16 languages. In fact, I think I will:

  1. Chinese (Mandarin): shei du le shenme?
  2. Czech: kdo co cetl?
  3. English: who read what?
  4. Estonian: kes luges mida?
  5. German: wer hat was gelesen?
  6. Greek: pjos djavase ti
  7. Hebrew: mi kara ma
  8. Hindi: kisne kyaa paRhaa?
  9. Hungarian: ki mit olvasott?
  10. Japanese: dare ga nani o yomimasita ka?
  11. Korean: nwuka mwuesul īlkessnī?
  12. Macedonian: koj čto čital?
  13. Russian: kto čto čital?
  14. Spanish: quién leyó qué?
  15. Tagalog: sino ang nagbása ng anó
  16. Vietnamese: ai (đã) đọc gì

I bring this up today because Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Coordinated WH words, Multiple-wh questions | 8 Comments »

How Would You Like How Many Eggs?

Posted by Neal on March 13, 2007

“You’d like this sentence,” my wife told me, looking up from her book.

“Oh, yeah?” I asked. “Whaddaya got?” She read aloud:

How would you like how many eggs?

“Hey, that is a good one,” I said. “When he says, ‘how would you like’, he’s looking for an answer like scrambled or fried, right, not just making an offer like, ‘How would you like a Coke?’?” My wife confirmed this. “Cool,” I said. “Then it’s definitely a multiple-wh question, with how and how many eggs. And what kind of answer does he get? Like, two this way and one that way, or just one number and the way they should be cooked?”

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Posted in Multiple-wh questions | 3 Comments »

LSA 2007: Multiple-Wh Questions in ASL

Posted by Neal on January 9, 2007

Since my last posting, the family and I have been to Houston and back (no shooting this time), and I’ve been to the annual Linguistic Society of America conference. Woulda blogged while I was there, since I went to the trouble of taking a laptop (computer, that is), but it completely died the night I arrived, after I’d paid for a three-day block of Internet access. So this week I’ll be writing belatedly about some of the highlights. Today’s installment: The most interesting talk I heard, from Sanda K. Wood of the University of Connecticut, on multiple-wh questions in ASL.

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Posted in LSA, Multiple-wh questions | 1 Comment »

Who Was Looking for Whom?

Posted by Neal on November 7, 2006

At about suppertime last night, the phone rang. The caller ID showed it was Doug’s friend James calling. I picked up the phone, preparing to tell James that Doug couldn’t play because he was about to have supper. “Hello?”

“Hi, Neal, it’s Rita.” Oh, not James. James’s mom. “Can you tell James it’s time to come home?”

“No, I can’t,” I told her, “because he’s not here.”

So Rita signed off to go find James and I went back to getting Doug and Adam’s supper ready. My wife, who had heard my half of the conversation from the next room, asked:

Who was looking for whom?

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Posted in Multiple-wh questions, Semantics | 8 Comments »