[An-lang] Suppletive forms of 1sg+2sg personal pronoun clusters

Loren A. Billings billings at ncnu.edu.tw
Thu Nov 13 12:02:40 UTC 2003

Dear colleagues,

Paz Naylor (to the list) and Bob Blust (just to me) pointed something out
that I was hoping to avoid. Here are the relevant parts of their messages:

On 11/13/03 10:46 AM, "Paz B. Naylor" <pnaylor at umich.edu> wrote to the list:

> From what I learned ages ago from sources I can no longer recall, KITA is
> the old DUAL - a remnant of the old pronominal number system; i.e., it
> wasn't always simply singular vs. plural.  (Most linguists would have heard
> of systems that even have - or had- a TRIAL form.) Given that Tagalog (and
> Cebuano and I don't know what other CP languages) make a formal distinction
> between 1rst-person INCLUSIVE vs. EXCLUSIVE plural, the notion of the
> existence of an earlier DUAL form would not be far-fetched.

On 11/13/03 10:03 AM, "Robert A. Blust" <blust at hawaii.edu> wrote to to me:

> I'm note sure that I would call kita in languages like Tagalog a
> 'suppletive' form.  It simply reflects PAN *kita '1pl in', with a shift to
> dual reference, evidently because the basic conversational unit is the
> personal dyad.  This has happened independently in the central Philippines
> and in some languages of northern Sarawak (as Kelabit).  The pragmatic basis
> for the semantic change seems fairly straightforward: if you are using a 1st
> person plural inclusive pronoun most of the time for speaker + hearer rather
> than for speaker + hearers then it would gradually come to have a dual
> reference.

I agree, for the most part, with what Paz and Bob have written. It's clear
from nearly every other Central Philippine (CP) language that _kita_ was the
Nom 1Pl inclusive form (as in Bikol and Cebuano)--indeed, in PAn. Tagalog
now has _tayo_ for the Nom1PlIn form. I agree with Bob's rationale for the
shift of _kita_ from being the 1.Pl.In. to the portmanteau 1SgGen+2SgNom
form via the idea of the speaker-addressee dyad.

As an aside, I write "for the most part" above because I don't know exactly
how the now archaic dual forms _kata_ (Nom) and _nita_ (Gen)--cited in the
pronoun tables of Schachter (1973) and Schachter and Otanes (1972)--might
bear on this hypothesis. I know nothing about these two forms aside from
their mention in Schachter (and Otanes). I can, however add that in one
Mansakan language (Tagakaulo Kalagan) that _kita_ is strictly 1.Dl.In., with
_kitamayu_ (i.e., _kita_ + 2.Pl. _mayu_) as the 1.Pl.In. form.

All that is tangential to the query I was initially trying to pose to you. I
would like to know how widespread the unusual 1sg+2sg pronoun forms are
outside of CP and Atayalic. I'd also like to know about complicated orders
of Gen and Nom bound pronouns in languages around these areas. So far, I've
received a few responses on Atayalic but nothing on the Philippine side.

Aside from Bob and Paz (to whom I am also grateful), thanks so far to the
following list members: Naomi Tsukida (Teruku Seediq), Edith Aldridge
(Takdaya Seediq), Waruno Mahdi (referring me to another's work). I hope to
have the pleasure to acknowledge other people's help in the future.

Sincerely, --Loren Billings

Loren A. Billings, Ph.D.
Associate professor of linguistics
Department of Foreign Languages and Literature
National Chi Nan University
Puli, Nantou, Taiwan 545 Republic of China

E-mail: billings at ncnu.edu.tw

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