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20 Questions

20.1. YES-NO QUESTIONS

In every language of the world, there is a distinction between sentences which make statements and sentences which ask ques­tions. While statements provide or supply information by des­cribing events, actions, states, etc., questions ask for or demand information of one type or another. There are many different ways of asking questions in Palauan, and these will be taken up in detail below. In general, our study of the structure of Palauan questions should pose few difficulties, since we are already familiar with most of the grammatical processes involved.

All languages have a basic distinction between yes-no ques­tions vs. questions which ask for the specific identity of a person, place, thing, etc. When the speaker uses a yes-no question, he simply wants to know whether or not such-and-such is the case; he expects the hearer to answer with ‘yes’ (chochoi) or ‘no’ (ng diak, ng dimlak, or ng dirkak—cf. 18.8). The following is a typical yes-no question:

(1)   A Droteo ng mlo ȩr a skuul?
    ‘Did Droteo go to school?’

If the speaker, however, wishes to know the specific identity of someone or something involved in a particular event, state, etc., he will use a question containing a specific question word like tȩcha ‘who?’ or ker ‘where?’ Thus, with 1, contrast the following questions:

(2)   a.   Ng tȩcha a mlo ȩr a skuul?
        ‘Who went to school?’
         
    b.   A Droteo ng mlo ȩr ker?
        ‘Where did Droteo go?’

Before examining questions which contain question words, we will first analyze questions of the yes-no type. 409

If the subject of a yes-no question is a non-emphatic pronoun (cf. 4.2), then the word order of the yes-no question is identical to that of the corresponding statement. The question, however, is distinguished from the statement by the intonation (or pitch) of the voice: while the statement is uttered with a fairly low, even pitch, falling slightly at the end, the question is spoken with a steadily rising intonation, which remains high at the end. Observe the pairs of sentences below:

(3)   a.   Kȩ, mle smechȩr.
        ‘You were sick.’
         
    b.   Kȩ mle smechȩr?
        ‘Were you sick?’
         
(4)   a.   Ng milil ȩr a sers.
        ‘He/she is playing in the garden.’
         
    b.   Ng milil ȩr a sers?
        ‘Is he/she playing in the garden?’
         
(5)   a.   Tȩ mlo ȩr a che er a elȩchang.
        ‘They went fishing today.’
         
    b.   Tȩ mlo ȩr a che er a elȩchang?
        ‘Did they go fishing today?’
         
(6)   a.   Tȩ chad ȩr a Siabal.
        ‘They’re Japanese.’
         
    b.   Tȩ chad ȩr a Siabal?
        ‘Are they Japanese?’

In the cases below, too, the word order of the question sentence and the corresponding statement sentence is identical:

(7)   a.   Ng soal a biang.
        ‘He wants some beer.’
         
    b.   Ng soal a biang?
        ‘Does he want any beer?’
         
(8)   a.   Ng suebȩk a rȩngrir.
        ‘They’re worried.’
         
    b.   Ng suebȩk a rȩngrir?
        ‘Are they worried?’
         
(9)   a.   Ng ngar ȩr ngii a kȩlem.
        ‘There’s food for you.’
         
    b.   Ng ngar ȩr ngii a kȩlem?
        ‘Is there any food for you?’
         
(10)   a.   Ng diak a chisel a Toki.
        ‘There isn’t any news about Toki.’ 410
         
    b.   Ng diak a chisel a Toki?
        ‘Isn’t there any news about Toki?’
         
(11)   a.   Ng dimlak longuiu ȩr a hong.
        ‘He didn’t read the book.’
         
    b.   Ng dimlak longuiu ȩr a hong?
        ‘Didn’t he read the book?’

In the examples of 711, the ng in subject position is a pronomin­al trace of a subject which has been shifted to the right of the verb phrase during the normal derivation of the statement sentence (cf. 17.2 and 17.7). Again, the intonation pattern is the only factor which differentiates the questions from the statements in these examples.

If the subject of a yes-no question is a specific noun phrase rather than a non-emphatic pronoun, then the question can be expressed in two ways. First, observe the pairs of examples below:

(12)   a.   A Droteo a mla mei.
        ‘Droteo has arrived.’
         
    b.   Ng mla me a Droteo?
        ‘Has Droteo arrived?’
         
(13)   a.   A rȩsȩchȩlim a mlo milil ȩr a kȩderang.
        ‘Your friends went to play at the beach.’
         
    b.   Tȩ mlo milil a rȩsȩchȩlim ȩr a kȩdȩrang?
        ‘Did your friends go to play at the beach?’

Comparison of the yes-no questions of the b-sentences with the corresponding statements of the a-sentences leads us to the sim­ple conclusion that the yes-no questions are derived from the statements by the process of subject shifting (cf. 17.2). Since the shifted subject Droteo of 12b is singular, the 3rd pers. sg. non-emphatic pronoun ng appears as a pronominal trace. In 13b, however, the shifted plural subject rȩsȩchȩlim ‘your friends’ leaves the 3rd pers. (human) pl. pronominal trace tȩ. As expected, the yes-no questions of 12b and 13b are spoken with a rising intonation; this feature of their pronunciation differentiates them from statement sentences involving subject shifting, which are pro­nounced with a low, even pitch. Thus, 12b, for example, con­trasts with the following:

(12b’)   Ng mla me a Droteo.
    ‘Droteo has arrived.’ 411

Now, with the yes-no questions of 12b and 13b, repeated here for convenience, contrast the c-sentences, which are identical in meaning:

(12)   b.   Ng mla me a Droteo?
        ‘Has Droteo arrived?’
         
    c.   A Droteo ng mla mei?
         
(13)   b.   Tȩ mlo milil a rȩsȩchȩlim ȩr a kȩdȩrang?
        ‘Did your friends go to play at the beach?’
         
    c.   A rȩsȩchȩlim tȩ mlo milil ȩr a kȩdȩrang?

The c-sentences are derived from the b-sentences by optionally preposing the shifted subject (Droteo in 12 and rȩsȩchȩlim ‘your friends’ in 13) to sentence-initial position. Unlike the instances of preposing observed in chaps. 17 and 18, however, the preposed subject in 12c and 13c simply precedes, but does not replace, the pronominal traces ng and tȩ. The examples below exactly parallel those of 12ac and 13ac: the a-sentence is a statement, the b-sentence is a yes-no question derived from the a-sentence by subject shifting, and the c-sentence is another yes-no question derived by preposing the shifted subject of the b-sentence:

(14)   a.   A dort a mȩduch1 ȩl kȩrrȩkar. ‘Ironwood is a strong tree.’
           
    b.   Ng mȩduch ȩl kȩrrȩkar a dort? ‘Is ironwood a strong tree?’
           
    c.   A dort ng mȩduch ȩl kȩrrȩkar?  
           
(15)   a.   A ears a mlo dȩkimȩs. ‘The sail got wet.’
           
    b.   Ng mlo dȩkimȩs a ears? ‘Did the sail get wet?’
           
    c.   A ears ng mlo dȩkimȩs?  

If the subject of a statement sentence is a noun phrase of possession, then three acceptable yes-no questions can be formed from it. Thus, in the pair of sentences below,

(16)   a.   A bȩchil a Droteo a klȩbokȩl.
        ‘Droteo’s wife is pretty.’
         
    b.   Ng klȩbokȩl a bȩchil a Droteo?
        ‘Is Droteo’s wife pretty?’

the yes-no question of 16b is derived from the statement of 16a by shifting the subject bȩchil a Droteo ‘Droteo’s wife’, which is a 412noun phrase of possession. Now, from 16b, we can form either of the following yes-no questions, which have the same meaning:

(16)   c.   A bȩchil a Droteo ng klȩbokȩl? ‘Is Droteo’s wife pretty?’
           
    d.   A Droteo ng klȩbokȩl a bȩchil?

The difference between the derivations of 16cd is as follows: in 16c, the whole shifted subject bȩchil a Droteo ‘Droteo’s wife’ is preposed, while in 16d only the possessor Droteo is preposed, leaving the possessed noun bȩchil ‘his wife’ in sentence-final position (cf. our discussion of preposing of possessor in 17.3). Another example parallel to 16ad is given below:

(17)   a.   A chȩral a bȩras a mȩringȩl.    ‘The price of rice is high.’/‘Rice is expensive.’
             
    b.   Ng mȩringȩl a chȩral a bȩras?   ‘Is rice expensive?’
             
    c.   A chȩral a bȩras ng mȩringȩl?    
             
    d.   A bȩras ng mȩringȩl a chȩral?    

20.2. THE QUESTION WORD tȩcha

The question word tȩcha ‘who?’ is used when the speaker wishes to know the identity of one or more persons involved in a particu­lar event, state, etc. Observe the examples below:

(18)   a.   Ng tȩcha a sensei ȩr kau?
        ‘Who is your teacher?’
         
    b.   Ng tȩcha a lilȩchȩsii tia ȩl babier?
        ‘Who wrote this letter?’
         
    c.   Ng tȩcha a mlo ȩr a party?
        ‘Who went to the party?’
         
    d.   Ng tȩcha a milosii a bȩlochȩl?
        ‘Who shot the pigeon?’

If we try to explain the sentences of 18 in a superficial, non-techni­cal way, we might say that tȩcha ‘who?’ must be preceded by ng in sentence-initial position when a question is being asked about the identity of the sentence subject. Though this simple expla­nation will allow us to form question sentences like 18ad cor­rectly, it nevertheless does not reflect the actual derivation of 18ad, which we will now examine in detail.

The examples of 18 are derived by the process of subject 413shifting from equational source sentences of the form subject noun phrase + tȩcha ‘who?’. The derivation of 18a is therefore represented according to the following scheme:

(19)   Source Sentence       Resulting Sentence
             
    A sensei ȩr kau a tȩchang.     Ng tȩcha a sensei ȩr kau?
            ‘Who is your teacher?’

The equational source sentence of 19 must undergo the process of subject shifting in order to become grammatical. As a conse­quence of this process, the subject noun phrase sensei ȩr kau ‘your teacher’ has come to appear in final position in the resulting sentence of 19, and the pronominal trace ng occupies the original subject position. The remaining question sentences of 18 are derived in exactly the same way, except that their source sentences have subjects of a rather special kind, as we will see below.

An important subtype of Palauan equational sentence is illustrated by the examples below:

(20)   a.   A mlad a Droteo.
        ‘The one who died is Droteo.’
         
    b.   A chillȩbȩdii a Toki a John.
        ‘The person who hit Toki is John.’
         
    c.   A olisȩchakl a tȩkoiȩr a Merikel a Masaharu.
        ‘The one who teaches English is Masaharu.’
         
    d.   A mle ȩr a blik er a elii a Cisco.
        ‘The person who came to my house yesterday is Cisco.’
         
    e.   A soal ȩl moȩr a Siabal a Maria.
        ‘The one who wants to go to Japan is Maria.’

As the English equivalents indicate, the examples of 20 are used when the speaker wishes to exhaustively identify a particular person as the one who is characterized by a particular event, action, state, etc. Thus, 20b emphasizes that it was John and only John (from among the possible persons involved) who hit Toki, and 20e singles out Maria as the person who wants to go to Japan. Because the examples of 20 have the abovementioned connotation of exhaustiveness, they differ in meaning from non-equational sentences containing a subject noun phrase and a verb phrase. Thus, compare 20b with the following:

(21)   A John a chillȩbȩdii a Toki.
    ‘John hit Mary.’

While 21 simply tells us what John did—namely, hit Mary—and leaves open the possibility that other persons might have done 414the same thing, 20b asserts that John alone was the one who performed this action.

In the equational sentences of 20, the italicized subject noun phrases do not contain any noun corresponding to English ‘one’ or ‘person’. In other words, these sentences show that Palauan verb phrases (together with any object noun phrase or relational phrase associated with them) can actually function as noon phrases with the meaning ‘the one who…’ or ‘the person who…’ Since the second noun phrase of 20ae (Droteo, John, etc.) refers to a human being, and since the sentences are equational, it is clear that the italicized subject noun phrases must also refer to human beings.2 The phenomenon under discussion here is fairly widespread in Palauan; thus, in 2.5 we saw that verb phrases consisting of state verbs (or, occasionally, action verbs) can be prefixed with the plural marker rȩ- to function as noun phrases with the meaning ‘anyone who is…, those who are…’ One example of this type is repeated here:

(22)   A irȩchar, e a rȩmeteet a ulȩngȩseu ȩr a rȩmechȩbuul.
    ‘In earlier times, the rich helped the poor.’

In addition, we saw in 8.2 that many state verbs derived with the resulting or anticipating state affixes have come to be used as nouns meaning ‘(something which is…’, as in the examples below:

(23)   a.   Ng soak ȩl mȩnga a chȩlat.
        ‘I’d like to eat a smoked one (= fish).’
         
    b.   Ng mle bȩtok a {sȩlesȩb/tȩlȩmall} er se ȩr a taem ȩr a mȩkȩmad.
        ‘There were lots of things {burned/destroyed} during the war.’

Returning to the question sentences of 18bd, we can now see that they are derived by subject shifting from equational source sentences whose subjects, like those of 20, are actually verb phrases being used as noun phrases. Therefore, the deri­vation of 18bd is schematized as follows:

(24)   Source Sentence       Resulting Sentence
                 
    a.   A lilȩchȩsii tia ȩl babier a tȩchang.       Ng tȩcha a lilȩchȩsii tia ȩl babier?
              ‘Who wrote this letter?’
                 
    b.   A mlo ȩr a party a tȩchang.     Ng tȩcha a mlo ȩr a party?
                ‘Who went to the party?’ 415
                 
    c.   A milosii a bȩlochȩl a tȩchang.       Ng tȩcha a milosii a bȩlochȩl?
              ‘Who shot the pigeon?’

In the examples of 24, the italicized subject of the source sentence is obligatorily shifted to the right of tȩcha ‘who?’ in the resulting sentence, and ng remains before tȩcha as a pronominal trace.

When we think more carefully about the meaning of questions like 24ac, we find further evidence in support of the claim that they are derived from equational source sentences which have a connotation of exhaustiveness (cf. our discussion following 20 above). In other words, since a question containing tȩcha ‘who?’ asks for the exhaustive identity of the person or persons involved in a particular event, action, etc., then it is only natural that it should be derived from a source sentence which has this very connotation. Thus, given the structure of their source sentences, the questions of 24ac should really be given English equivalents such as (for 24a) ‘Who is the one who wrote this letter?’, etc.3

20.2.1. Further Types of Questions With tȩcha

The question sentences of 18ad, which are derived by subject shifting, can be further transformed by a rule which once again preposes the shifted subject to sentence-initial position (cf. 1215 above). Thus, with 18a, repeated below for convenience as 25a, compare 25b:

(25)   a.   Ng tȩcha a sensei ȩr kau? ‘Who is your teacher?’
           
    b.   A sensei ȩr kau ng tȩchang?  

In 25b, which is identical in meaning, the shifted subject sensei ȩr kau ‘your teacher’ of 25a has been moved back to sentence­-initial position, where it precedes the pronominal trace ng. The very same process can apply to shifted subjects which are actually verb phrases functioning as noun phrases (cf. our discussion of 20ae above). Thus, with 18c, repeated below as 26a, compare 26b:

(26)   a.   Ng tȩcha a mlo ȩr a party? ‘Who went to the party?’
           
    b.   A mlo ȩr a party ng tȩchang?  

So far, we have only examined question sentences with tȩcha ‘who?’ in which the speaker wishes to know the identity of the agent or subject (in the non-technical sense mentioned following 18). If the speaker wants to know the identity of the object—i.e., 416of the person receiving the effect of a particular action—then he can formulate questions with tȩcha according to two different grammatical patterns. The simpler of the two patterns is illustrated below; here, the question word tȩcha ‘who?’ merely occupies the position normally occupied by sentence objects (i.e., following the transitive verb phrase):

(27)   a.   Kȩ milsa a tȩcha ȩr a party?
        ‘Whom did you see at the party?’
         
    b.   Kȩ mȩngiil ȩr tȩchang?4
        ‘Whom are you waiting for?’
         
    c.   A Droteo ng ulȩba a tȩcha ȩl mo ȩr a ochȩraol?
        ‘Whom did Droteo take to the money-raising party?’

Because tȩcha ‘who?’ asks for the identity of a specific person, it must always be preceded by the specifying word ȩr (cf. 2.7) when the transitive verb is imperfective, as in 27b.

The second pattern used for asking questions about the identity of a human object is shown in the examples below:

(28)   a.   Ng tȩcha a chomilsa ȩr a party?
        ‘Whom did you see at the party?’
         
    b.   Ng tȩcha a lulȩkodir a rubak?
        ‘Whom did the old man kill?’

The questions of 28, like those of 24, are derived by shifting sub­jects which are actually verb phrases being used as noun phrases; the only difference is that the verb phrase contains a passive verb form (cf. 19.7). Thus, the questions of 28 are derived as follows:

(29)   Source Sentence       Resulting Sentence
                 
    a.   A chomilsa ȩr a party a tȩchang.  
  Ng tȩcha a chomilsa ȩr a party?
          ‘Whom did you see at the party?’
                 
    b.   A lulȩkodir a rubak a tȩchang.  
  Ng tȩcha a lulȩkodir a rubak?
          ‘Whom did the old man kill?’

Because the italicized subjects of the source sentences of 29 contain passive verb forms, the resulting sentences really mean something like ‘Who is the person who was seen by you at the party?’ and ‘Who is the person who was killed by the old man?’ In addition to its use in questions which ask for the identity of the sentence subject or object, the question word tȩcha ‘who?’ can function in other environments where noun phrases normally occur. For example, in the sentences below, tȩcha follows the relational word ȩr: 417

(30)   a.   Kȩ milluchȩs ȩr a babier ȩl mo ȩr tȩchang?
        ‘To whom were you writing the letter?’
         
    b.   Kȩ oba a hong ȩr tȩchang?5
        ‘Whose book do you have?’

And in the following questions, tȩcha appears as the possessor in a noun phrase of possession:

(31)   a.   Se ng mlil tȩchang?6
        ‘Whose car is that?’
         
    b.   Tia ng kȩlel tȩchang?
        ‘Whose food is this?’

Some question sentences showing additional uses of tȩcha ‘who?’ are provided below:

(32)   a.   Kȩ mlo ȩr a party kau mȩ tȩchang?
        ‘With whom did you go the party?’
         
    b.   Kȩ tȩchang?
        ‘Who are you?’
         
    c.   Ngka ng tȩchang?
        ‘Who is this person?’
         
    d.   Ng tȩcha a ngklel a sȩchȩlim?7
        ‘What’s your friend’s name?’
         
    e.   Tia ȩl babier ng tȩcha a milluchȩs ȩr ngii?8
        ‘Who was writing this letter?’/ ‘This letter—who was writing it?’
         
    f.   A blai ng tȩcha a silsȩbii?
        ‘Who burned down the house?’/ ‘The house—who burned it down?’

20.3. THE QUESTION WORD ngara

The question word ngara ‘what?’ is used when the speaker wants to know the identity of a particular thing (whether concrete or abstract). Question sentences with ngara ‘what?’ exhibit many different patterns, and the derivation of some of them is quite complex. It will be easiest, of course, to begin with the simplest pattern, which is illustrated in the examples below:

(33)   a.   Kȩ milȩchȩrar a ngara ȩr a stoang?
        ‘What did you buy at the store?’
         
    b.   Tȩ mȩsuub a ngarang?
        ‘What are they studying?’
         
    c.   Ng mo oba a ngarang?
        ‘What is he going to bring?’ 418

In 33ac, which are questions about the identity of the sentence object, the question word ngara ‘what?’ simply occurs in the normal position occupied by an object noun phrase—namely, directly following the transitive verb phrase.

If a specific third person subject is mentioned in question sentences like 33ac, we have sentences like the following:

(34)   a.   A Droteo ng mirruul a ngarang?
        ‘What did Droteo do/make?’
         
    b.   A rȩsȩchȩlim tȩ ulȩba a ngarang?
        ‘What did your friends bring?’

We can easily account for the word order of questions like 34ab if we propose that they are derived by the already-familar subject shifting and preposing rules and that they have source sentences whose structure parallels that of 33ac. Thus, 34a is ultimately derived from the following source sentence,

(35)   A Droteo a mirruul a ngarang.
    (‘What did Droteo do/make?’)

which shows the basic order subject noun phrase (Droteo) + transitive verb phrase (mirruul) + object noun phrase (ngarang). As it stands, 35 is not an acceptable sentence; therefore, it must be further transformed by (obligatory) application of the subject shifting rule. Applying subject shifting to 35 gives us the follow­ing grammatical sentence:

(36)   Ng mirruul a ngara a Droteo?
    ‘What did Droteo do/make?’

Though 36 is grammatical, many speakers prefer to change it further by moving the shifted subject Droteo back to sentence­initial position. When this type of preposing takes place, the pre­posed noun phrase merely precedes, but does not replace, the pronominal trace ng (cf. our discussion of examples 1215 in 20.1 above), thus deriving 34a. The analysis described here is summarized in the following step-by-step derivation:

(37)   A Droteo a mirruul a ngarang.   (source sentence)
    Ng mirruul a ngara a Droteo?   (by subject shifting)
    A Droteo ng mirruul a ngarang?   (by preposing of shifted subject)

The derivation of 34b is exactly parallel, except that the prono­minal trace is because of the shifted human plural noun phrase rȩsȩchȩlim ‘your friends’. 419

The question sentences of 33 can undergo a special rule which preposes the question word ngara; this rule seems to be applicable only when ngara functions as sentence object (cf. note 8 above). Thus, with 33ab, repeated here for convenience, com­pare the sentences with preposed ngara9, which are identical in meaning:

(38)   a.   Kȩ milȩchȩrar a ngara ȩr a stoang?
        ‘What did you buy at the store?’
         
    b.   Ngara kȩ milȩchȩrar ȩr a stoang?
         
(39)   a.   Tȩ mȩsuub a ngarang?
        ‘What are they studying?’
         
    b.   Ngara tȩ mȩsuub?

The question sentences of 34, which contain a specific third person subject, can also be affected by the rule which preposes ngara. Thus, with 34a, compare the following grammatical sen­tence, which has the same meaning:

(40)   Ngara ng mirruul a Droteo?
    ‘What did Droteo do/make?’

Example 40 is derived in the following manner. First of all, the source sentence

(35)   A Droteo a mirruul a ngarang.
    (‘What did Droteo do/make?’)

is transformed by subject shifting into

(36)   Ng mirruul a ngara a Droteo?
    ‘What did Droteo do/make?’

At this point, the rule preposing ngara is applied, giving 40 above. Preposed ngara of 40 precedes, but does not replace, the pronomi­nal trace ng. A similar phenomenon was observed in 38b and 39b, where preposed ngara precedes, but does not replace, the non-emphatic pronouns and tȩ.

Some further examples in which ngara ‘what?’ refers to the sentence object are provided below. The various rules mentioned above can account for the different patterns observed:

(41)   a.   A Droteo ng ulȩba a ngara ȩl mȩruul ȩr a blai?10
        ‘What did Droteo use to build the house?’
         
    b.   Ng ulȩba a ngara a Toki ȩl mȩlȩkosȩk ȩr a tech?10
        ‘What did Toki use to cut the meat?’ 420
         
    c.   Ngara kȩ mirruul er a elii?
        ‘What did you do yesterday?’

It is also possible for ngara ‘what?’ to appear as the subject of a passive sentence (cf. 19.7), as in the examples below:

(42)   a.   Ngara a chomulȩchȩrar ȩr a stoang?
        ‘What did you buy at the store?’
         
    b.   Ngara a lurruul ȩr ngii a Droteo?
        ‘What did Droteo do/make?’

The passive sentences of 42 are related to active sentences such as the following ( = 33a and 34a):

(43)   a.   Kȩ milȩchȩrar a ngara ȩr a stoang?
        ‘What did you buy at the store?’
         
    b.   A Droteo ng mirruul a ngarang?
        ‘What did Droteo do/make?’

When we compare the passive sentences of 42 with the active sentences of 43, we see that the agent and the object have ex­changed positions. This accounts for the fact that ngara ‘what?’ has come to appear in subject position in the passive sentences of 42, even though it really designates the object of the actions in­volved. The following characteristics of passive sentences are also observed in 42ab: the verb form following ngara is hypo­thetical (the prefixes chomu- and lu- identify the person and number of the agent), and ȩr ngii follows the verb if the subject of the passive sentence is singular (as in 42b).

20.3.1. Further Types of Questions With ngara

Though ngara ‘what?’ is used most frequently as a sentence object, as illustrated by the examples in 20.3 above, it can also fulfil other functions. Thus, the questions below are equational sen­tences in which the subject noun phrase or the second noun phrase is ngara:

(44)   a.   Ngara a soam?11
        ‘What do you want?’/‘What would you like?’
         
    b.   Ngara a ngklel a ‘rrat’ ȩl tȩkoi ȩr a Siabal?
        ‘What is the word for “bicycle” in Japanese?’
         
    c.   Tia a ngarang?
        ‘What’s this?’
         
    d.   Se a ngarang?
        ‘What’s that?’ 421

In the sentences below, the question word ngara appears in a relational phrase:

(45)   a.   A blim ng rruul ȩr a ngarang?
        ‘What’s your house made out of?’
         
    b.   A rȩchad tȩ mle kakoad ȩr a ngarang?
        ‘What were the people fighting over?’
         
    c.   A beab ng tilobȩd ȩr a ngarang?
        ‘What (place) did the mouse emerge from?’
         
    d.   Ng mlad ȩr a ngarang?
        ‘What did he die from?’

Can you distinguish among the several types of relational phrases represented in 45ad?

The question word ngara can be linked to a following noun by the word ȩl, as in the examples below:

(46)   a.   Ngara ȩl tȩkoi a chomosuub er a elȩchang?
        ‘What language are you studying now?’
         
    b.   Ngaraȩl mubi a chobo momes ȩr ngii?12
        ‘What kind of movie are you going to see?’
         
    c.   A bȩlochȩl ng silebȩk ȩr a ngara ȩl kȩrrȩkar?
        ‘Which tree did the pigeon fly out of?’
         
    d.   Ng mo ngara ȩl blai a blim?
        ‘What kind of house will yours be? (i.e., what will it be made out of?)’

When ngara modifies a following noun in this way (see 24.2, ex. 12) the resulting meaning is ‘which/what/what kind of____?’

In one interesting case, the question word ngara can be used to refer to people. Note the contrast in meaning between the following sentences:

(47)   a.   Tirke ȩl teru ȩl chad tȩ ngarang?
        ‘What are those two people? (i.e., what is their profession?)’
         
    b.   Tirke ȩl teru ȩl chad tȩ rua tȩchang?
        ‘Who are those two people?’

In 47a, ngara ‘what?’ asks for information about the profession of the two people, while in 47b tȩcha ‘who’?’ is a request to have them identified by name.

When followed by the connecting word ‘and (so)’ (see 22.1), ngara asks a question about the reason for something and therefore corresponds closely to English ‘why?’ Observe the examples below, in which the clause introduced by designates the action or state for whose occurrence a reason is sought: 422

(48)   a.   Ngara mȩ a Droteo a dimlak lȩpass ȩr a test?
        ‘Why didn’t Droteo pass the test?’
         
    b.   Ngara mȩ kȩ mlo ȩr a Saibal?
        ‘Why did you go to Saipan?’
         
    c.   Ngara mȩ ng mle kȩsib a rȩngum?
        ‘Why were you angry?’
         
    d.   Ngara mȩ a rȩsȩchȩlim a silesȩb a blai?
        ‘Why did your friends burn down the houses?’

If the clause introduced by has a specific third person subject, then this subject can be preposed to sentence-initial position, leaving behind a pronominal trace. Thus, with 48d, compare the sentence below, whose meaning is the same:

(49)   A rȩsȩchȩlim ngara mȩ tȩ silesȩb a blai?
    ‘Why did your friends burn down the houses?’

Another way of asking ‘why?’ in Palauan is to use ngara followed by the obligatorily possessed noun uchul ‘its reason’ (cf. chap. 3, note 17), which is in turn followed by a clause in­troduced by mȩ. Questions with ngara uchul … tend to be more serious than those with ngara …—that is, they ask for a detailed explanation of the real reason behind something. Note the sentences below:

(45)   a.   Ngara uchul mȩ kȩ mȩrmang?
        ‘What’s the (real) reason you’re coming?’
         
    b.   Ngara uchul mȩ ng mlo soam ȩl mȩrael?
        ‘Why have you decided to leave?’

20.4. THE QUESTION WORD tela

In order to ask a question about the quantity or size of something, we use the question word tela ‘how much, how many?’ The derivation of questions containing tela involves the very same processes of subject shifting and preposing discussed in con­nection with tȩcha ‘who?’ and ngara ‘what?’ above. Observe the following examples:

(51)   a.   Ng tela a klȩmȩngȩtem? ‘How tall are you?’
           
    b.   A klȩmȩngȩtem ng telang?  
           
(52)   a.   Ng tela a chȩrmem ȩl bilis? ‘How many dogs do you have?’
           
    b.   A chȩrmem ȩl bilis ng telang?423  
           
(53)   a.   Tȩ tela a rȩsȩchȩlim? ‘How many friends do you have?’
           
    b.   A rȩsȩchȩlim tȩ telang?  

It is easy to see that the a-sentences above are derived by subject shifting from equational source sentences of the form subject noun phrase + tela ‘how much, how many?’ The b-sentences are in turn derived from the a-sentences by optionally preposing the shifted subject. The step-by-step derivation of 53, for instance, is as follows:

(54)   A rȩsȩchȩlim a telang. (source sentence) →
    Tȩ tela a rȩsȩchȩlim? (by subject shifting) →
    A rȩsȩchȩlim tȩ telang? (by preposing of shifted subject).

Since the source sentence of 54 is not grammatical as it stands, subject shifting must be applied to it obligatorily. The resulting sentence, in which the shifted subject rȩsȩchȩlim ‘your friends’ leaves the pronominal trace tȩ, is perfectly acceptable. Therefore, application of the preposing rule in the last step of 54 is merely optional.

If the shifted subject in sentences with tela is a noun phrase of possession, then the process of preposing can apply either to the entire shifted subject or to the possessor alone (cf. 16cd above). Consider the examples below:

(55)   a.   Ng tela a chȩral a bȩras? ‘How much does the rice cost?’
           
    b.   A chȩral a bȩras ng telang?  
           
    c.   A bȩras ng tela a chȩral?  
           
(56)   a.   Ng mle tela a rȩkil a ngalȩk? ‘How old was the child?’
           
    b.   A rȩkil a ngalȩk ng mle telang?  
           
    c.   A ngalȩk ng mle tela a rȩkil?  
           
(57)   a.   Ng mle tela a teng ȩr a Toki? ‘What was Toki’s grade?’
           
    b.   A teng ȩr a Toki ng mle telang?  
           
    c.   A Toki ng mle tela a teng ȩr ngii?  

The b-sentences above are derived by preposing the entire shifted subject (italicized) of the a-sentence, while the c-sentences are formed by preposing only the possessor. In 57c, a pronominal trace of the preposed possessor Toki remains in the form of an emphatic pronoun (ngii) following the relational word ȩr.

Just like ngara ‘what?’, the question word tela ‘how much, 424how many?’ can be linked to a following noun by the word ȩl. The examples below are typical:

(58)   a.   Ng tela ȩl klok er a elȩchang?
        ‘What time is it now?’
         
    b.   Kȩ me ȩr a tela ȩl klok ȩr a klukuk?
        ‘At what time are you coming tomorrow?’
         
    c.   Ng tela ȩl ududem a ngar ȩr a bangk?
        ‘How much of your money do you have in the bank?’
         
    d.   Tȩ mle tela ȩl chad a ilȩko ȩr a party?
        ‘How many people went to your party?’
         
    e.   Kȩ ngilim a tela ȩl biang?
        ‘How much (of the) beer did you drink?’
         
    f.   Ng tela ȩl ngikȩl a chomȩkilang?
        ‘How many fish did you eat?’

20.5. THE QUESTION WORD ker

The question word ker ‘where?’ is used when the speaker wants to find out the location of some action or state, or the goal or source of an action involving movement. This question word, which cannot be introduced by a, always appears in a relational phrase in sentence-final position. Observe the examples below, which have non-emphatic pronouns as subjects:

(59)   a.   Kȩ milsa a Satsko ȩr ker?
        ‘Where did you see Satsko?’
         
    b.   Ng mȩruul ȩr ngii ȩr ker?
        ‘Where is he making it?’
         
    c.   Tȩ mlo ȩr ker er a elii?
        ‘Where did they go yesterday?’

In 59a–b, ȩr ker ‘where? = at what place?’ is being used as a locational phrase (cf. 14.2), while in 59c ȩr ker ‘where? = to what place?’ functions as a directional phrase (cf. 14.3).

If a question sentence with ker has a specific third person subject, then two patterns are possible, as the following examples show:

(60)   a.   Ng ngar ȩr ker a tik? ‘Where’s my purse?’
           
    b.   A tik ng ngar ȩr ker?  
           
(61)   a.   Tȩ mla ȩr ker a rȩngalȩk? ‘Where were the children?’
           
    b.   A rȩngalȩk tȩ mla ȩr ker? 425  

The a-sentences above are derived by the obligatory application of subject shifting to source sentences of the form

(60a’)   A tik a ngar ȩr ker.
    (‘Where’s my purse?’)
     
(61a’)   A rȩngalȩk a mla ȩr ker.
    (‘Where were the children?’)

From the a-sentences we can in turn derive the b-sentences by optionally preposing the shifted subject. Several pairs of question sentences similar to 6061 are now given:

(62)   a.   Ng chad ȩr ker a John? ‘Where is John from?’
           
    b.   A John ng chad ȩr ker?  
           
(63)   a.   Ng ruoll ȩr ker a blim? ‘Where is your house to be built?’
           
    b.   A blim ng ruoll ȩr ker?  
           
(64)   a.   Ng tilobȩd ȩr ker a rȩkung? ‘Where did the crab emerge from?’
           
    b.   A rȩkung ng tilobȩd ȩr ker?  

In sentence-final position, and following short verb forms like mo ‘go’, mla ‘was/were (located)’, etc., the relational phrase ȩr ker is often contracted and pronounced as if it were a single r at the end of the preceding word. This phenomenon is observed in the sentences below:

(65)   a.   Kȩ ulȩmȩngur e mo ȩr ker? [kulǝmǝŋurεmor]
        ‘Where did you go after eating?’
         
    b.   Kȩ mla ȩr ker? [kǝmlar]
        ‘Where have you been?’

20.6. THE QUESTION WORD oingara

The question word oingara ‘when?’, which is never introduced by a, is used to ask questions about the time of an event, action, state, etc. This question word usually appears in sentence-final position as part of the relational phrase er oingara ‘when?’, which is classified as a temporal phrase (cf. 14.6). In the examples below, the sentence subject is a non-emphatic pronoun:

(66)   a.   Kȩ me er oingarang?
        ‘When are you coming?’
         
    b.   Tȩ mo ȩr a Guam er oingarang?
        ‘When are they going to Guam?’ 426
         
    c.   Kȩ milsa a sȩchȩlik er oingarang?
        ‘When did you see my friend?’

If a question sentence with oingara has a specific third person subject, we get sentences such as the following:

(67)   a.   A Helen ng mirrael er oingarang?
        ‘When did Helen leave?’
         
    b.   A rȩsȩchȩlim tȩ me mȩngȩtmokl ȩr a blik er oingarang?
        ‘When are your friends coming to clean my house?’

Can you explain how the question sentences of 67 have been derived?

20.7. THE SPECIAL QUESTION WORD mȩkȩra

Palauan has a special verb mȩkȩra ‘do what?’ which can only be used in question sentences. Since mȩkȩra is a verb, it can occur in various tenses: thus, we have milȩkȩra or mlȩkȩra in the past tense (cf. 5.3.2) and mo mȩkȩra in the future tense. Some typical sentences containing mȩkȩra ‘do what?’ are given below:

(68)   a.   Kȩdȩ mȩkȩrang?
        ‘What shall we do (now)?’
         
    b.   Kȩ mȩkȩrang?
        ‘What are you doing?’
         
    c.   Kȩ milȩkȩra er se ȩr a lȩme a Toki?
        ‘What were you doing when Toki came?’
         
    d.   Kȩ mlȩkȩra er a elii?
        ‘What did you do yesterday?’
         
    e.   Kȩ mȩkȩra kung13?
        ‘What are you about to do?’
         
    f.   Ng milȩkȩra a buik e ruebȩt?
        ‘How did the boy fall?’
         
    g.   Kȩ mlȩkȩra mȩ ke mle otsir ȩr a test?
        ‘How did you fail the test?’
         
    h.   Kȩ mo ȩr a Hawaii ȩl mo mȩkȩrang?
        ‘What are you going to go to Hawaii for?’
         
    i.   A rȩchad er a Belau tȩ mȩkȩra a loruul a bȩkai?14
        ‘What do the Palauans do in making pottery?’

20.8. SENTENCES WITH TWO QUESTION WORDS

When the speaker wishes to know the identity of two or more 427persons, things, places, etc., he can formulate a question in which two occurrences of the same question word are joined by the connecting word (see. 25.4). Some questions of this type are listed below:

(69)   a.   Kȩ milsa a tȩcha mȩ a tȩcha ȩr a party?
        ‘Who (pl.) did you see at the party?’
         
    b.   Ng tȩcha mȩ a tȩcha a ulȩbȩngkem ȩl mo ȩr a chelȩbachȩb?
        ‘Who (pl.) went with you to the Rock Islands?’
         
    c.   Ngara mȩ a ngara a chomoruul ȩl kirel a party?
        ‘What things are you making for the party?’
         
    d.   A Droteo ng mlo ȩr ker mȩ ker?
        ‘What places did Droteo go to?’
         
    e.   Kȩ mlo ȩr a Siabal er oingara mȩ oingarang?
        ‘On what occasions/at what times did you go to Japan?’

Notes

    a. A chadȩl mlad a Droteo.
    ‘The one who died is Droteo.’
  b. A chadȩl chillȩbȩdii a Toki a John.
    ‘The person who hit Toki is John.’

Some linguists would propose that the italicized subjects of 20a–b are derived from those of a and b above by deleting the noun chad (which is redundant given the context) and the relative clause in­troducer ȩl.

*3. In 4.6, ex.22a-b, we listed negative sentences like the following, which emphatically deny that some person or persons were connected with a particular event:

    a. Ng dimlak lȩngak a silsȩbii a blai.
    ‘It wasn’t me who burned down the house.’
  b. Ng dimlak ltir a milkodir a bilis.
    ‘It wasn’t them who killed the dog.’

The derivation of a–b, though complicated, should now be clear. Thus the source sentence of a, for example, is the following:

    c. [A silsȩbii a blai a ngak] a dimlak. 519

As we saw in chap. 18, the subject of the negative verb diak (past: dimlak) can be a whole (bracketed) sentence, as in c. In c this brack­eted sentence is of the equational type, and furthermore its subject (italicized) contains a verb phrase being used as a noun phrase (cf. 20 and 24 above). The source sentence c is transformed as follows: First, the entire bracketed sentence is moved to the right of dimlak by the subject shifting rule, leaving the pronominal trace ng:

    d. Ng dimlak [a silsȩbii a blai a ngak].

Next, since the subject of a shifted equational sentence cannot remain in initial position (cf. 18.6), d must be changed into the following:

    e. Ng dimlak [a ngak a silsȩbii a blai].

At the same time, the hypothetical pronoun lȩ- must be prefixed to the noun immediately following dimlak, thus deriving sentence a.

    Ng tȩcha a chomoba a hong ȩr ngii?
  ‘Whose book do you have?’
    a.   Ngara ȩl kȩdȩra a dȩbo dongȩdub ȩr ngii?
      ‘What beach are we going swimming at?’
  b.   Ngara ȩl delmȩrab a losuub ȩr ngii a Droteo?
      ‘What room is Droteo studying in?’ 520
  c.   Ngara ȩl blsibs a lȩtilobȩd er ngii a beab?
      ‘What hole did the mouse emerge from?

The italicized subject noun phrases of a-b designate the location of an action, while that of c refers to the source.

1. The state verb mȩduch, translated here as ‘strong’, is also used as a (transitive) state verb meaning ‘know how (to), be skilled at’ (cf. 16.3).

2. The examples of 20 can also be expressed with subjects containing chad ‘man, person’ followed by a relative clause (see chap. 23) which describes or modifies chad. Thus, with 20a-b, for example, compare the following equational sentences, which are identical in meaning:

4. When preceded by the specifying word ȩr or the relational word ȩr, the question word tȩcha ‘who?’ cannot be introduced by a. The reason for this restriction is unclear.

5. A more complicated way of expressing this question is the following, which uses a passive verb:

6. When used as a possessor following a possessed noun, tȩcha is nor­mally not introduced by a. Cf. note 4 above and chap. 4, note 3.

7. As this example indicates, the common way of asking someone’s name in Palauan is to use tȩcha ‘who?’ together with the appropriate possessed form of ngakl ‘name’. Therefore, the literal translation for 32e would be ‘Who is your friend’s name?’ (which is of course un­acceptable in English).

8. In this and the following sentence, the objects tia ȩl babier ‘this letter’ and blai ‘house’ of the transitive verbs milluchȩs ‘was writing’ and silsȩbii ‘burned it down’ have been preposed. Questions of this type seem to be used when the things referred to by the objects represent old information for the speaker and hearer—i.e., when they have already been introduced into the conversation as a topic of discussion.

9. It is interesting to note that when ngara is preposed in this way, it is not introduced by the word a.

10. The sequence introduced by ȩl functions as a purpose clause (cf.15. 2).

11. By applying the rule of subject shifting to this sentence, we get Ng soam a ngarang? ‘What do you want?’/‘What would you like?’

12. This and the above example are passive sentences in which the sub­ject noun phrase (ngara ȩl tȩkoi ‘what language?’ or ngara ȩl mubi ‘what kind of movie?’) corresponds to the object of the related active sentence. As we saw in 19.7.3, the subject noun phrase of a passive sentence sometimes corresponds to a noun phrase which would occur in a relational phrase in the associated active sentence. This is true for the examples below:

13. For an explanation of the meaning and use of the predictive word ku, cf. 11.12.6.

14. For a discussion of this type of sentence, which contains a condi­tional clause, cf. 19.3.

Additional Information

ISBN
9780824879075
MARC Record
OCLC
1053883872
Pages
408-520
Launched on MUSE
2018-09-19
Language
English
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-ND
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