Daniel Petit

On the Latvian indefinite pronoun kaût kas

The present paper deals with the origin of the Latvian indefinite pronoun kaût kas ‘something’. It is generally recognized that kaût kas is related to the conditional concessive conjunction kaût ‘even if, although’, but the semantic pathway that made such a derivation possible has not been reconstructed so far in a satisfactory way. In this paper, a detailed investigation of the etymology of kaût kas is conducted, with particular attention to the syntactic structures that may have played a role in forming an indefinite pronoun from a conditional concessive conjunction. It can be argued that the evolution suggested above reflects a cross-linguistically widespread pattern, according to which indefinite pronouns may be derived from ‘scalar particles’ (even, at least). The derivation of a scalar particle (even, at least) from a conditional concessive conjunction (even if) is, on the other hand, an areal phenomenon limited to the Baltic area. We may thus assume a two-level evolution: (1) even if > even, at least (areal pattern); (2) even, at least someone > anyone > someone (typological pattern).

Keywords: Indefinite pronouns, Latvian language, conditional concessives, particles, etymology