Relativized Personal Pronouns

W. Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Thu Feb 5 08:24:10 UTC 2004

Dear Typologists,

maybe that the recent exchange on the status of 'person markers' met the interest
of some list members, only. So please excuse that I come back to this point, but
from a slightly different angle. I am interested in learning more about the
arguments that speak in favor of a 'referential' reading of Person Markers (in
terms of personal pronouns). One of these arguments concerns the question whether
such pronouns (Speech Act Particpant Pronouns only!) can be qualifying by an
attribution strategy. The hypothesis is that if such pronouns can be attributed
they behave (in this point) like nouns. There are many such tests, e.g.

    Num + Pro
    Attr:Adj + Pro
    Art + Pro
    Dx + Pro
    Poss + Pro
    Pro + Rel    etc.

Note that the order of the segments is illustrative only. Naturally, the 'nature'
of the attributing segment influences the whole structure. For instance, the
structure Num+Pro (e.g. 'two we') involves other aspects than say the sequence
Attr:Adj+Pro (e.g. 'old you'). In case numerals have stronger referential
properties, we have to deal with an apposition rather than with attribution (e.g.
'we two'). The same holds for instance for pseudo-attributing strategies as given
in German 'ich kleiner' ('I small:one'). Nevertheless, I would be very interested
in learning, to which extent languages allow one or more of the types mentioned

More specifically, I am interested in the question whether the relativization of
pronouns is licensed. Consider for instance German:

(1)    'Du, der du immer Fehler machst, ....'
        you:sg who you:sg always mistake:pl make:pres:2sg
        'You, who always make(s)(?) mistakes...'

[I'm not sure whether this works in English]

An alternative in German would be:

(2)    'Du, der immer Fehler macht,....'
        you:sg who always mistake:pl make:pres:3sg

This constructions sounds odd to some of my informants. But if a first singular is
present, the construction seems acceptable:

(3)    'Ich, der immer Fehler macht,....'
        I who always mistake make:pres:3sg

I assume that, here, third person agreement refers to referential properties of the
head. In other words, if (3) is more acceptable than (2) this would indicate that
German 'ich' ('I') has more referential properties than 'du' ('you:sg'). This
hypothesis in fact goes together with a more general cognitive typology of personal
pronouns: Accordingly, the concept of 'you:sg' (TU) represents the 'communicative
variant' of EGO in addressee directed (or: deictic) communication (to put it in
simple terms). The corresponding hierarchy of reference properties reads:

(4)    3sg < 1sg < 2sg    (or: IS/EA/ID < EGO < TU)

The example in (1) would indicate that there is a tendency in German to reduce the
referential properties of EGO in favor of an 'indexal' interpretation, resulting in
a 'personalized relative pronoun' ('der-ich', 'die-ich' etc.)

Now, my question is whether in other languages, there are analogous strategies that
cross-reference a 'personal pronoun' with the help of a third person marker
(corresponding to (2) and (3)). Likewise I am curious to learn whether there are
constraints on such strategies related to the person involved. [Note that I do not
refer to personalized relative pronouns as such. These would correspond to the
German type (1) which is, by itself, not helpful to determine possible referential
properties of pronouns.]

Also, it would be good to know which other 'qualifying' strategies (mentioned
above) can be described. May well be that much of what I have addressed has been
dealt with in the literature. So, I would be glad in case you can help me by
indicating the relevant literature.

Very best wishes and thanks in advance for you help,

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze
Institut für Allgemeine und Typologische Sprachwissenschaft
Department 'Kommunikation und Sprachen' (Dep. II) - F 13/14
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
D-80539 München
Tel.: ++49(0)89-2180-2486 (Sekr.) / -5343 (Büro)
Fax: ++49(0)89-2180-5345
Email: W.Schulze at

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