[Lingtyp] Query re anaphoric object pronouns

Alex Francois francois at vjf.cnrs.fr
Mon Dec 16 10:30:00 EST 2019


dear Martin,

One dimension you forgot to mention, and which appears crucial to me for
any study of that sort, is animacy.
I can think of many languages where zero-anaphora is allowed (or even the
rule) for inanimate patients, while it would be less possible for animate ~
human ones.

I think this is true, for example, for the *Mandarin *example you cite:


今天早上我见到了*她*。
Jīntiān  zǎoshang  wǒ   jiàndào le   *tā*.

today    morning   1sg  see     PFT  3sg:(Fem)

'I saw *her* this morning.'


今天早上我见到了。
Jīntiān zǎoshang  wǒ  jiàndào le  ∅.
today   morning   1sg see     PFT ∅
'I saw *it* this morning.'


(Chinese speakers and experts, please correct me.)

*Mwotlap *(and other northern Vanuatu languages) would be similar:   Zero
anaphora is the norm for non-human objects, but not expected for human
objects:


No  m-eksas  *kē *   aqyig         lemtap

1sg PFT-see   3sg  today:Past  morning

'I saw *her* this morning.'


No  m-eksas  *∅*    aqyig         lemtap
1sg PFT-see   ∅  today:Past  morning

'I saw *it* this morning.'


I don't think that Mandarin *tā* qualifies as a clitic;  nor does Mwotlap
*kē*.
Insofar as they are obligatorily expressed for animate patients, then these
cases would constitute, like English, exceptions to the general principle
you're proposing.

best
Alex
------------------------------

Alex François

LaTTiCe <http://www.lattice.cnrs.fr/en/alexandre-francois/> — CNRS–
<http://www.cnrs.fr/index.html>ENS
<https://www.ens.fr/laboratoire/lattice-langues-textes-traitements-informatiques-et-cognition-umr-8094>
–Sorbonne nouvelle
<http://www.univ-paris3.fr/lattice-langues-textes-traitements-informatiques-cognition-umr-8094-3458.kjsp>
Australian National University
<https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/francois-a>
Academia page <https://cnrs.academia.edu/AlexFran%C3%A7ois> – Personal
homepage <http://alex.francois.online.fr/>
------------------------------


On Mon, 16 Dec 2019 at 15:13, Haspelmath, Martin <haspelmath at shh.mpg.de>
wrote:

> I have a question on 3rd person anaphoric pronouns in the world’s
> languages. In many languages, these are optional when they refer to a
> continuous topic, not only in subject (S/A) role, but also in object (P)
> role. So we get patterns like the following:
>
>
>
> – Have you seen Lee today?
>
> – Yes, I met (her) in the cafeteria.
>
>
>
> I’m wondering if the following universal tendency is true:
>
>
>
> (U) In almost all languages, if the anaphoric object pronoun is
> obligatory, it is a bound form (= a form that cannot occur on its own, i.e.
> an affix or a clitic).
>
>
>
> Spanish and Arabic are examples of languages where the obligatory
> anaphoric object forms are bound (clitic or affix). English and German are
> exceptions to this generalization (and perhaps a few other European
> languages as well).
>
>
>
> But are there many exceptions? According to Siewierska (2004: 43), about
> two thirds of all languages (223 out of 378 in her WALS chapter
> <https://wals.info/feature/102A>) have bound object person forms (=
> object indexes), so the hypothesized universal tendency is a question about
> those languages that lack object indexes, and have only independent
> personal pronouns or demonstratives for object function. Are there many
> among them which (like English) obligatorily require an overt form in this
> function?
>
>
>
> Or are most of them like Mandarin Chinese, which according to Wiedenhof
> (2015: §5.2.2) happily allows zero-anaphora sentences like *Nǐ yào ma?*
> [you want Q] ‘Do you want it?’
>
>
>
> I’m interested in all reports of languages outside of Europe which are
> unlike Mandarin, and like English, in this respect.
>
>
>
> Many thanks,
>
> Martin
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
> Kahlaische Strasse 10	
> D-07745 Jena
> &
> Leipzig University
> Institut fuer Anglistik
> IPF 141199
> D-04081 Leipzig
>
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