pronominal systems

Ulrike Zeshan uzeshan at UCLAN.AC.UK
Mon Dec 6 13:35:29 UTC 2010

Hello all,
I am posting this question on behalf of one of my PhD students, who is compiling a reference grammar of Ugandan Sign Language (USL). USL has a complex system of pronouns, and we are interested in comparable cases in spoken languages.
In particular, USL has three different pronouns, all of which can roughly translate into English as "xself", in the emphatic sense of "doing something myself / on my own". We have provisionally labelled the pronouns as follows:
- neutral emphatic: equivalent to the English example above, i.e. doing something by oneself, without additional semantics, i.e. "You work on this project yourself".
- exclusive emphatic: this means it should be done by person x only, to the exclusion of others, e.g. "You work on the project yourself (and nobody else can)"
- pejorative emphatic: this implies a rejection of responsibility and is used for rebuttal, in the sense of "You work on this project yourself, (and I am not going to help you)"
All three signs are directed spatially to point at a person or a location in space, but have different hand shapes. In addition to the above, the system of pronominal pointing also includes two different possessive pronouns, a personal pronoun, a "responsibility" pronoun ("you, being the responsible person for x"), a demonstrative and a honorific pronoun. 
If anyone can direct us at references to any spoken languages that have similar pronominal categories,especially the semantically "unusual" ones, that would be very helpful.
Prof. Ulrike Zeshan
Director, International Institute for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies
International School for Communities, Rights, and Inclusion
Livesey House, LH212
University of Central Lancashire
Preston PR12HE, UK
uzeshan at
Ph. +44-1772-893104
Fax +44-1772-894933
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list