[Lingtyp] Definition of “personal pronoun"
christian.lehmann at uni-erfurt.de
Mon Jul 12 05:49:56 EDT 2021
I second Bill’s verdict that terms are not defined in isolation;
definitions have their place in a theory. The concepts defined have
their place in a taxonomy and/or meronomy. And since our theories are
empirical theories, if two objects systematically share some
ascertainable property, then it is useful to subsume them under a
suitable hyperonym. For instance, if you have a language in which not
only interrogative pronouns, but also interrogative pro-adjectives and
even interrogative pro-adverbs share some formal properties like
starting with /wh-/and some behavioral properties like preferring the
initial focus position etc., then a hyperonym like ‘interrogative
proform’ is useful. And once you have defined it (in your theory of
interrogation, grammaticalization (of proforms) etc.), you can even use
it in the description of a language whose interrogative proforms do not
seem to share formal properties or which does not even seem to have such
a class, just in order to conveniently state this fact. Needless to say,
the same goes for personal pronouns, proforms in general and just anything.
Prof. em. Dr. Christian Lehmann
E-Post: christianw_lehmann at arcor.de
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