nominal-internal person agreement

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Sat Sep 29 04:43:51 UTC 2012

Dear all,

Roon (an Austronesian language of the South Halmahera West New Guinea 
group spoken in the Cenderawasih Bay region) has similar constructions, 
with NP-internal quantifiers and demonstratives agreeing in number, 
gender and person with their nominal heads.

I recently gave a conference paper titled "Person Marked Noun Phrases", 
providing a world-wide typological study of person marking within noun 
phrases, of which the construction mentioned by Steve Wechsler is a 
particular case.  In a nutshell, the construction seems pretty rare 
worldwide, with a cluster in west New Guinea, plus isolated instances in 
Nama and Classical Nahuatl.  However, not all of the languages with 
person marked noun phrases have the kind of agreement pattern 
illustrated in Zulu below.  For example, Papuan Malay has person marked 
noun phrases but no NP-internal agreement involving quantifiers or other 
such attributive modifiers.

BTW, it is indeed very important to ascertain that in a string such as 
the Zulu example below, the pronoun and the quantifier form a 
constituent.  In Hebrew, for example,, analogous strings are also 
grammatical, but the quantifier is adverbial and not part of the subject NP.



On 29/09/2012 09:40, Pattie Epps wrote:
> Hello all,
> This query is on behalf of Steve Wechsler:
> It has been noted that (at least some) Bantu languages have person
> agreement inside certain Quantified Noun Phrases:
> Thina s-onke   si-fik-ile            (Zulu; Doke 1963:94, cited in
> Baker 2008:115)
> we     1pl-all    1pl-arrive-perf
> 'We have all arrived.'
> The quantifier onke 'all' agrees with thina 'we' in person (and
> number).  This is said to be typologically rare since adnominals such
> as quantifiers do not normally agree in person.  I would be interested
> in any examples of such apparently nominal-internal person agreement
> in Bantu or other languages.  In particular, I wonder if phrases like
> [we 1pl-all] can occur in all nominal positions in the sentence (such
> as object position), or rather tend to be sentence-initial.
> Thanks,
> Steve Wechsler
> _wechsler at mail.utexas.edu_

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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