19 Interrogative pronouns

This feature is described more fully in chapter 19.


Here we look at the four interrogative pronouns ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ and ask whether they are expressed as simple, monomorphemic words as in the European lexifiers, or as compound expressions consisting of a generic noun and an adnominal interrogative word.

Compound interrogatives translate literally as 'which person', 'what place', 'what hour', 'what manner' or similar. From the first through the last value, languages show an increasing amount of compound expressions, and thus an increasing degree of distance from the European lexifiers.


Martin Haspelmath and the APiCS Consortium


All simple words22
One compound expression18
Two compound expressions17
Three compound expressions10
Four compound expressions7

Language Value Lexifier Details Source
Id Primary text Analyzed text Gloss Translation Type Language Audio Details