pronominal systems

Siva Kalyan sivakalyan.princeton at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 6 15:26:36 UTC 2010

I'm not 100% sure, but I think the "pejorative emphatic" meaning can be
expressed in Tamil using a combination of an emphatic second-person pronoun
and a reflexive (actually "self-benefactive") verb:

Nī.y=ē paṇṇi.k-kō
'Do it yourself.'

However, this can be used not only in a rebuttal ("Fine! Go do it
yourself!"), but also in a more neutral way ("All right, if you want to do
it yourself, you may."). In either case, though, it specifically entails, "I
won't help you"; the difference is whether the withholding of assistance is
in accordance with the addressee's wishes.

This isn't a pronominal category, of course (the emphatic marker can attach
to any NP, as well as to other kinds of constituents). But a case could
probably be made that this structure (emphatic pronoun + self-benefactive
verb) is conventionally associated with some kind of rejection of

I hope this is of some relevance.


On 6 December 2010 08:35, Ulrike Zeshan <uzeshan at> wrote:

>  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.
> Ulrike
> 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
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