Indefinite pronouns (Synja Khanty)

IP=Q: Indefinite pronouns are identical to interrogative pronouns.

IP~Q: Indefiniteness is expressed by a special bound morpheme that usually – but not necessarily – has an etymological relationship to words meaning ‘be,’ ‘want,’ ‘maybe,’ ‘or,’ and ‘too.’

IP~N: Independent indefinite pronouns are formed from generic nouns meaning ‘person’ or ‘thing.’ The number ‘one’ may be used instead of ‘person,’ often with a morpheme expressing indefiniteness.

(1a) muj                                     

1. ’what?’ 2. ’something’ (S. O., F. L., DEWOS: 878)

(1b) molti

‘something’ (S. O., F. L.)

(1c) molti ot

something thing

‘something’ (S. O.)

(2a) xoj

1. ‘who?’ 2. ‘somebody’ (S. O., F. L.)

(2b) xojat

1. ‘somebody’, 2. ’man’ (DEWOS: 449, Onina 2011: 60)

(2c) matti

‘somebody’ (S. O.)

(2d) matti xojat

somebody man

‘somebody’ (Onina 2011: 47)

(2e) matti ot

somebody thing

‘somebody’ (S. O.)

Various indefinite pronouns are used in Synja Khanty. The interrogative pronouns and the – specific and non-specific (Nikolaeva 1999a: 18) – indefinite pronouns can be identical (1a), (2a) (DEWOS: 442, 878), or they can be formed with postpositions and derivational suffixes from interrogative pronouns (Honti 1984: 75). Some indefinite pronouns evolved from interrogative pronouns and the forms incorporated a special derivation suffix or other modifying elements (Honti 1984: 75). The interrogative pronouns referring to animate (2c) and inanimate (1c) entities can both contain the word ot ‘thing’ (S.O.). The word xojat, which originally meant ‘man’, is also used as an indefinite pronoun (DEWOS: 449, Onina 2011: 60). The restriction of the referents of indefinite pronouns to animate and inanimate entities is not strict in Synja Khanty, e.g. molti ‘something’ can also be used for animate referents (S.O.).


Nikolett F. Gulyás