[Lingtyp] Query re anaphoric object pronouns

Chao Li chao.li at aya.yale.edu
Mon Dec 16 16:29:02 EST 2019


Dear Alex and Martin,


I agree with Alex, Eitan, and Volker that animacy is an important factor
when all the contexts of object-drop are examined. At the same time, I
would like to add that, with respect to Mandarin, animate objects may also
be naturally dropped, and this is particularly true of conversational
contexts, as shown in (1-2).


(1)  A:  你喜欢他(/她)吗?

             Nǐ    xǐhuan   tā (/tā)         ma?

              you  like        him(/her)     Question.Particle

             ‘Do you like him(/her)?'
       B:  当然喜欢啦。
             Dāngrán     xǐhuan   la.
             of.course    like        Sentence.Final.Particle
             '(I) of course like (him/her).'

(2) A: (holding a picture)
          你见过这个人吗?
          Nǐ      jiàn-guo                zhè-gè              rén
ma?
          you   see-Experiential    this-Classifier   person
Question.Particle
          'Did you see this person before?'
    B:  我没见过。
          Wǒ   méi    jiàn-guo.
          I       not     see-Experiential
         'I didn't.'

Best regards,
Chao

On Mon, Dec 16, 2019 at 10:30 AM Alex Francois <francois at vjf.cnrs.fr> wrote:

> 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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