David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Mon Oct 19 10:55:33 UTC 1998

In response to Peter Bakker's response to Martin Haspelmath:

> > Concerning Martin's unidirectional extension Noun > Pronoun:
> >
> > Pronoun > Noun may be unnatural/rare, but is probably not impossible.
> In this connection it may be useful to point to cases where a
> possessive pronoun is combined with a noun, and which may become the
> normal form of the pronoun (like in Black English "your ass"). [...]

> This phenomenon is apparently reasonably common in 'Cant'-like languages
> [...] It is extremely rare, however, in 'normal' languages.

Rare?  What about forms such as "monsieur", "mister", etc?  (Incidentally,
in colloquial Indonesian dialects, the loanword "mister" has gone a step
further, losing its gender and whatever honorific features it has in
English, but acquiring racial features:  in Indonesian, "mister" means
"white person".)

Another related phenomenon that comes to mind is in the "broken" or
"jargon" English used by workers in the tourist industry in Thailand and
Vietnam, where the word for "friend" is "my-friend".  For example, Jargon
English "He my-friend you", to mean "He is your friend".


David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Inselstrasse 22
D-04103 Leipzig

tel:  49-341-9952310
fax:  49-341-9952119
email:  gil at

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