demonstrative or pronoun

snaim at VJF.CNRS.FR snaim at VJF.CNRS.FR
Sun Aug 9 10:46:25 UTC 2009

> Dear all,

in colloquial oriental (lebaneese, syrian, palestinian) and yemenite
arabic in both context A and B, one usually employs  a prepositional
phrase : the comitative ma' + suffix :  With-you X

  ma'-ak   John
 with-you  John.

in context A you may use the pronoun for insistence, if the line is really
bad for example:

   'ana John
   I   John

Samia Naïm

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
> --
> 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
> Webpage:

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