Associative plurals

Gideon Goldenberg msgidgol at PLUTO.MSCC.HUJI.AC.IL
Thu Aug 16 23:53:36 UTC 2001

I guess that the "associative plural" in Amharic has already been
noticed and taken into consideration for the project of mapping
language structures. Some points, however, regarding such structures
in Anharic, still deserve being stressed. The prefix ïnnä- in Amharic
(older ïllä-, lit. "those of") comes with proper names, unspecified
proper name ("so-and-so"), and with demonstrative, interrogative and
personal pronouns, to denote "(N and) those that belong with N", but
not real grammatical plural for "those whose name is N".
ïnnä-Maryam = "Mary with her group/followers/friends" or "women like
Mary", but women whose name is Mary will be referred to as Maryam-och
(with the ordinary plural suffix -och).
Most interesting is the fact that ïnnä- is also the "plural" prefix
of pronouns: antä "you (sg.)" - ïnnä-antä "you (pl.)", ïrsu "he" -
ïnnä-rsu "they", conceived as "thou and those (other than thou) that
belong with thee, thou with thy likes" &c.; "he + those others who
belong with him"
                             Yours,              Gideon Goldenberg

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