Personal Pronoun

W. Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Sat Sep 20 12:14:22 UTC 2003

Gilles Authier schrieb:

> Dear All
> I d like to have this question forwarded through Funknet :
> Does anybody have instances of Personal Pronoun systems where a 1st
> person plural exclusive is distinct of a 1st person plural inclusive
> AND this 1 person plural inclusive serves also as the 2d person
> plural. That is, two forms, with the repartition "we excl." distinct
> of "we incl. = you plural".

Perhaps Gilles should make clear whether the language at issue knows
another option for the 2pl, for instance something like a 2pl exclusive
(excluding the first person or locutor). For instance, the Borch dialect
of Rutul (East Caucasian, Lezgian) has the opposition /vu%q%na"r/ (% =
pharyngealization) 'you (pl.) with us' vs. /we^%/ (e^ = schwa) 'you
without us' (note that in this dialect, the 2pl. exclusive comes close
to the first person plural exclusive (/yu%q%na"r/), but not to the
inclusive (/yanur/)). Most likely, the two exlusive forms are marked for
a 'privative' element (/-q%-na"r/) that excludes the 'second person' in
role swapping. The merger you have mentioned reminds me of tendencies
for instance in the Meheb dialect of Dargwa (East Caucasian) to use a
focus particle (/-ra/) to mark the first person in assertions, whereas
it marks the second person in questions, compare

(nu) quli-w le-w-ra
(I)    home:loc-cl:I be-cl:I-foc:1sg
'I am at home'

(h^u) quli-w le-w-ra-w
(you) home:loc-cl:I be-cl:I-foc:2sg-Q
'Are you at home?'

In other words, modality discriminates the two communicative referents,
not morphology. This observation is related to the well-known
distribution of personhood: In a standard corpus, the 1sg/pl usually
occurs in assertions ('indicative'), whereas the 2sg/pl is typical in
modal constructions (questions, imperatives, inferentials etc.). It may
well be that the distribution Gilles has mentioned is related to the
same functional mechanism: If we read the inclusive as a cluster
'I+you', we may assume that its rendering as a 1pl:incl is linked to
assertions (focusing on the 'I'-component), whereas in modal
construction, the focus lies on the 'you'-component resulting in a
2pl:incl. Hence, it would perhaps be wise to check the constructional
types into which Gilles' pronoun(s) are textually embedded.

Things may be different, if Gilles' data do not show any 'true' 2pl
(exclusive). In this case, the above mentioned distribution would not

Hope that helps a bit,


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze
Institut für Allgemeine und
Typologische Sprachwissenschaft
- General Linguistics and Language Typology -
Dept. II - Kommunikation und Sprachen
F 13/14 - Universitaet München
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
D-80539 Muenchen
Tel.: ++49-(0)89-2180-2486 / -5343
Fax: ++49-(0)89-2180-5345
Email: W.Schulze at

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