[Lingtyp] Query re anaphoric object pronouns

Alex Francois francois at vjf.cnrs.fr
Mon Dec 16 17:19:01 EST 2019


dear Chao,

I realise that the examples you cite for animate pro-drop all follow a
particular structure, namely, they are responses to polar questions, in
which the verb is simply repeated, often dropping its subject and/or its
object.  Yet I agree with David's point, that this is a specific pragmatic
context, which may have its own rules, in languages like Hebrew and
Mandarin.
So it's possible that we are not actually carrying out the same test in all
languages.

If we come back to Martin's question, I believe we should first agree on a
particular syntactic context to be tested.  This would make our data
comparable across languages, and give stronger value to our generalisations
("structure X is allowed in language A but not in language B").
In this case, the test could be defined as follows:

   - The test sentence must have a transitive verb, which is *not* the mere
   repetition of a previous verb (as in a reply to a polar question).
   - Its grammatical object is a participant that is already activated in
   discourse (topical), and is retrieved anaphorically.
   - Can this object be zero-expressed?
   - In each language, the test could be carried out with

(1) a speech act participant
(2) a human referent
(3) a non-human, animate referent
(4) an inanimate referent.


Here would be possible questionnaire sentences:

(*1*) My sister knows you already.  She saw [[you]] last month at the party.

(*2*) You know my sister already.  You saw [[her]] last month at the party.

(*3*) You know my cat already.  You saw [[it]] last month in my home.

(*4*) You do know that song.  You sang [[it]] last year in class.



Mwotlap (Vanuatu) has obligatory expression of the object for sentences
(1)–(2)–(3), using free pronouns;
it has obligatory dropping (zero expression) of the object in (4).

English and French have obligatory expression of the object in all four
sentences.
What about Mandarin? Hebrew? other languages?

According to Jürgen's message, Mayan would have segmental realisation of
the object in (1), but zero in (2)–(3)–(4).
I propose the following hypothesis (which needs to be tested):
Languages will locate the boundary between overt and zero expression of the
object  somewhere along that scale {1>2>3>4}, with overt expression to the
left and zero to the right.

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 22:29, Chao Li <chao.li at aya.yale.edu> wrote:

> 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
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Lingtyp mailing list
>>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>>>
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