Egocentric questions: The view from Bangla and Hindi-Urdu


  • Arka Banerjee WBNUJS
  • Kousani Banerjee English and Foreign Languages University
  • Rajesh Bhatt University of Massachusetts at Amherst


In Bangla and Hindi-Urdu, we find a kind of question that is grammatically restricted to being about a particular event. This kind of a question consists of a demonstrative pronoun followed by a plain question. We refer to such questions as egocentric questions and to the demonstrative pronoun they con- tain as the egocentric pronoun. The egocentric pronoun picks out an event and the question is about this event. Since the speaker and the hearer need to pick out the event the question is about, such questions cannot be used in a state of speaker ignorance. This differentiates them from plain questions where speaker ignorance is the default. We show that various properties of egocentric questions follow from the need to be able to assign a reference to the egocentric pronoun and from the nature of access the speaker has to the event that the egocentric pronoun picks out.