Volume 27, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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This paper examines two types of expressions that seem to exist in all languages, demonstratives and interrogatives. Based on a representative sample of 100 languages it is shown that demonstratives and interrogatives have some striking features in common. They cross-cut the boundaries of several word classes and encode the same semantic features: person, thing, place, direction, manner, time, and amount. It is the central hypothesis of this study that the crosslinguistic parallelism between demonstratives and interrogatives is motivated by their pragmatic functions: both initiate a search for information that is guided by their semantic and syntactic features. Further, it is argued that demonstratives and interrogatives have a special status in language. Although both types of expressions are commonly considered grammatical markers, they do not serve an ordinary grammatical function. Grammatical markers organize the information flow in the ongoing discourse, whereas basic demonstratives and interrogatives are immediately concerned with the speaker-hearer interaction.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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