demonstrative or pronoun?

Silvia Luraghi silvia.luraghi at UNIPV.IT
Fri Aug 7 15:03:01 UTC 2009

in Italian the appropriate construction would be:
sono Giovanni
i.e. no subject, but verb inflected in the first person singular.
Especially in contex A,
è Giovanni
is also acceptable, i.e. verb in the third person 
singular. In no case would the occurrence of any 
type of subject make an acceptable construction.

At 16.09 07/08/2009, David Gil wrote:
>Dear all,
>Consider the following very similar contexts;
>Context A:
>John and Bill are friends.  John calls Bill on a 
>landphone; it's a bad line, Bill doesn't know 
>who is speaking; John tries to identify himself 
>(using a predicate nominal construction)...
>Context B:
>John and Bill are friends.  John sends Bill a 
>text message from a new number that Bill is 
>unfamiliar with; John identifies himself (using 
>a predicate nominal construction)...
>My question:
>In languages that you are familiar with, in the 
>above contexts, is the subject of the predicate 
>nominal construction a demonstrative or a 1st pronoun pronoun?
>In English, the subject is a demonstrative; the 
>pronoun is infelicitous in the given context:
>This is John
>#I am John
>But in Indonesian, the subject is most commonly 
>a pronoun, though a demonstrative is also possible:
>Ini John [less common]
>Aku John
>I am curious to know what happens in other 
>languages.  (I have a hunch that the 
>availability of the "pronominal subject" option 
>in Indonesian is correlated with the 
>questionable status of pronouns as a discrete 
>grammatical category in Indonesian, but this 
>hunch is easily testable with a bit of cross-linguistic data.)
>Note: I don't expect to find differences between 
>the two contexts; I provided both just in order 
>to make the situation more natural to as many respondents as possible.
>David Gil
>Department of Linguistics
>Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
>Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
>Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
>Email: gil at

Silvia Luraghi
Dipartimento di Linguistica Teorica e Applicata
Università di Pavia
Strada Nuova 65
I-27100 Pavia
telef.: +39-0382-984685
fax: +39-0382-984487 

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