From interrogatives to placeholders in Udi and Agul spontaneous narratives

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The paper describes the form and behavior of placeholders in Udi and Agul, two languages belonging to the Lezgic branch of the Northeast Caucasian family. The placeholders found in these languages show clear similarity despite the fact that they developed independently. In both languages, nominal placeholders originate from interrogative pronouns, which in combination with the verb ‘do’ serve as a source for verbal placeholders. In Udi, placeholders further gave rise to a similative construction describing a set of individuals or events on the basis of their similarity to a specific referent or situation. Finally, we suggest hypotheses concerning the development of placeholders and the correlations between their form and the overall typological profile of a language. Keywords: placeholder; interrogative pronouns; spontaneous discourse; Udi; Agul


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