Saturday, February 18, 2006

Question Words

Feels odd writing about my thoughts on the internet for everyone to read. Normally I keep my opinions/thoughts to myself unless asked. But seemed like you get a lot of good feedback/comments/advice from people who read blogs. My friend Joy Ghosh (joyghosh.blogspot) introduced me to this site.

Anyways, this first post is not about something deep or innovative or philosophical or any of that jazz, just a simple observation.

I was thinking, as usual, about ..., well, I was just thinking and realized how the question words all start with the same syllable/alphabet in all the languages I know. Seemed really odd initially when I went through the first couple of the six I know. Then... it just became more strange :). Maybe there is some real reason behind this, or maybe its just a co-incidence. Maybe I haven't used google enough to research and find out; hmm, that I guess could be because I just wanted to write my first blog on it :).

Okay, let me get to the point. In English, the following question words start with the same alphabet. (Btw, I just did a simple search on google and didn't find anything on this.)

"Who", "Why", "What", "Where", "When","Which". The only exception is "How". All the others start with a "w".

In Hindi (the national language of India), the same question words are:

Kaun, Kyon, Kya, Kahan, Kab, Kaunsa, Kaise.

In Tamil ( a south-Indian language), the same words are:

Evan, Endiku, Ennadu, Engay, Eppo, Edu, Epidi.

In Malayalam (another south-Indian language), they are:

Yaaru, Endinu, Endaa, Evada, Eppo, Edu, Engana.

In Marathi (another Indian language; no points for guessing where I am from), they are:

Koni, Kashaala, Kay, Kutha, Kadhi, Konta, Kasaa.

In French (yes, I know French), they are:

Qui, Pourquoi, Qui, Ou, Quand, Quel, Comment (seems like this language does not conform a lot and pardon me if I have made a mistake in listing the words - I stopped learning/reading French 7 years ago).

Was it done so that people could ask questions more easily to get around and to get things done even if they didn't know the language of the people they were "trapped" amongst? Yes, I know I have to come up with something more plausible :). Maybe it was because when language developed among the first humans, the most common words in their monosyllabl(istic?) language were these question words and they found it easy to say the same "sound" in different ways to convey different meanings (think of "who", "why", "wha(t)", "whe(re)", as examples of such monosyllables)?

Well, if you could list the above question words in your language (and/or any other languages you know), we could see if this holds true in general!

Ciao, its late in the night.