nominal-internal person agreement

Denis Creissels Denis.Creissels at UNIV-LYON2.FR
Sat Sep 29 06:12:48 UTC 2012

Here are some roughly glossed Tswana examples (from Google) with r-otlhe
‘all of us’ or l-otlhe ‘all of you’ in various syntactic positions. I can
provide more precise glosses and/or additional explanations if needed.


Letsatsi la-gompieno ke le legolo mo go-rona r-otlhe

day of-today it_is one big in LOC-we 1PL-all

‘Today us an important day for all of us’


O-re-sireletsa r-otlhe

CL1-1PL-protect.PRES 1PL-all

‘He protects all of us’


Re-a-itse r-otlhe gore...

1PL-DJ-know 1PL-all that...  (DJ = disjoint)

‘We all know that ...’


Ke ya-rona r-otlhe

it_is of-us 1PL-all

‘It belongs to all of us’


Modimo o-nne le-lona l-otlhe

God CL3-be.SUBJ with-you 2PL-all

‘Let God be with all of you’


Denis Creissels



De : Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG] De
la part de Pattie Epps
Envoyé : samedi 29 septembre 2012 06:10
Objet : nominal-internal person agreement


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.

Steve Wechsler
wechsler at

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