'impersonal' second person

Randy LaPolla R.LaPolla at LATROBE.EDU.AU
Tue Sep 27 01:54:12 UTC 2011

See the following paper by Yung-O Biq for this use in Chinese:

Biq, Yung-O. 1991. The Multiple Uses of the Second Person Singular Pronoun in Conversational Mandarin.  Journal of Pragmatics 16: 307-321.


Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA
Professor (Chair) of Linguistics
La Trobe University

Personal site: http://tibeto-burman.net/rjlapolla/
RCLT: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/rclt/
The Tibeto-Burman Domain: http://tibeto-burman.net/
Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area: http://stedt.berkeley.edu/ltba/

From: Eitan Grossman <eitan.grossman at MAIL.HUJI.AC.IL>
Reply-To: Eitan Grossman <eitan.grossman at MAIL.HUJI.AC.IL>
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2011 01:54:19 +1000
Subject: 'impersonal' second person

Hi everyone,

I'm interested in uses of second person for 'generic,' 'impersonal,' or 'procedural' functions, e.g., 'you go straight and then left,' 'you never know what you're up against,' etc. Anna Siewierska (Person, p. 212) mentions that it occurs in Germanic, Romance, Slavonic languages, as well as Hungarian, Estonian, Komi, Turkish, Abkhaz, and another dozen or so non-European languages.

At the moment, I'm interested in the cross-linguistic extent of this phenomenon. I would be grateful if people would be able to tell me in what languages it does (or doesn't) occur. If there are any linguistic discussions of this in particular languages or families, that would be great too.

I will post a summary of the responses, if there are any.


Best wishes,
Eitan Grossman

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