demonstrative or pronoun?

Siewierska, Anna a.siewierska at LANCASTER.AC.UK
Fri Aug 7 15:23:57 UTC 2009

Dear David,

In Polish you would use the demonstrative, To Jan.



-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG]
On Behalf Of David Gil
Sent: 07 August 2009 15:09
Subject: demonstrative or pronoun?

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

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