demonstrative or pronoun?

Anaid Donabedian anaid.donabedian at INALCO.FR
Sun Aug 9 09:10:23 UTC 2009

Dear David,

In Armenian (both eastern and western), which is a pro-drop language, 
one can both say :
Hovannes-n e
John-DEF  is
(it's John)
Note that there is an obligatory focus stress on Hovannes, because of 
the preverbal position.
One can also say (in order to avoid the 3d person interpretation if the 
context allow it) :
Yes em, Hovhannes-e
I am, John-DEF
(it's me, John)
Here the focus stress is on "yes" (I/me)

The use of first person is possible only if you present yourself to 
people who don't know you (answer to question "who are you") :
(Yes) Hovannes-n em
I am John (... I am American, I live here for one year, etc.)
(focus stress on Hovannes)

Demonstrative is possible only with deictic function (showing somebody 
on a photo)
Sa yes em
this I am

Best regards

David Gil a écrit :
> 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.
> Thanks,
> David

Anaid Donabedian-Demopoulos
Professeur d'armenien
Directrice du Master Langues, cultures et societes du monde
Directrice du Cercle de linguistique de l'Inalco

Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales
2 rue de Lille
75007 Paris

Bureau rue de Lille : +33 170232647 (attention, nouveau numero)
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