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In most (or all?) of Germanic languages questions are created by inversion. E.g.:

"I am here." -> "Am I here?"

As far as I know most of Slavic languages do it simply by adding a word before the sentence. Something like:

"I am here." -> "If I am here?"

Are there any other "methods" of creating a question? I'm especially interested if there exist languages that use inflection in order to do it? Something like:

"I am here." -> "I is here?"

  • By "conjugation", do you mean a bound affix on a verb (and not a clitic)? Do you mean all questions, or would it suffice if only polar or wh-questions do this? – user6726 Oct 20 '15 at 21:11
  • @user6726 An affix (or a complete change of a word), although If u know an example of a clitic, I would also be happy to know about this. Polar questions would be satisfying, but the more general the better. – Arsen Oct 20 '15 at 22:03
  • The word in the Slavic languages that you alluded to is in fact a (Wackernagel) clitic. – Ivan Kapitonov Oct 20 '15 at 23:19
  • Could you elaborate on what you are saying about Romance languages? – fdb Oct 21 '15 at 0:16
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    Finnish uses the suffix -ko/-kö on theverb to form a question, IIRC. Japanese uses a final particle ka. – Colin Fine Oct 21 '15 at 0:16
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Yes there are other ways of constructing questions. Many Australian languages use a verbal auxiliary which carries some modal meaning, to which they then attach subject and object agreement clitics. The Walmajarri language changes the auxiliary to create polar questions (source, p93):

yani  pa-lu    mangawarnti
went  AUX-3pl  girls
'The girls went.'

yani  nga-lu   mangawarnti
went  AUX-3pl  girls
'Did the girls go?'
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Standard Korean has an interrogative inflection (as opposed to declarative, imperative and propositive moods), as part of the property known as the "pragmatic mood". It is characterised by -ㅂ니까 -mnikka for vowel stems or -습니까 -seumnikka for consonant stems in the formal polite level (as in 합니까 hamnikka and 있습니까 issseumnikka) and -느냐 -neunya for the formal plain level (하느냐 haneunya / 있느냐 issneunya). Adjectives (i.e. descriptive verbs) have a different inflection for the formal plain level: -냐 -nya for vowel stems and -으냐 -eunya for consonant stems. For all forms, this may be abbreviated to -니 -ni in speech.

There is generally no formal inflection distinction in the intimate (informal plain) [although many other interrogative forms are used, e.g. -지 -ji], the general polite (informal polite), the authoritative (semi-formal polite) and familiar (semi-formal, semi-polite).

Interestingly enough, the Gyeongsang dialect group of Korean (including Busan), in its informal plain layer, distinguishes between yes-no questions and wh-questions by inflection, with an -아 -a or -나 -na for yes-no questions and -오 -o or -노 -no for wh-questions.

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Chinese adds a particle "ma" to form polar questions from declaratives.

You good 'you are good'
you good irr 'Are you good?'

Similarly, many Andean languages have clitics to form wh- and polar questions from declaratives and imperatives.

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  • I'd like to see clarification / elaboration on the Andean claim. The "validation" suffix -chu in Quechua is also used to express doubt, so it is not a question marker, though it is used in questions. – user6726 Oct 21 '15 at 17:24
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    Yes, -chu is conjectural in Quechua, not interrogative. Consider e.g. -cha, -sa and -ti in Aymara: uka anu-wa 'that is a dog' but uka anu-ti 'is that a dog?' – Teusz Oct 21 '15 at 19:51
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Japanese has a particle /ka/ <か> added to the end of the sentence that marks it as a question.

Declarative: Anata wa nihonjin desu

Question: Anata wa nihonjin desu ka

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