inanimate for first/second person agreement

Michael Daniel misha.daniel at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 30 13:12:42 UTC 2014

Dear colleagues,

Most of East Caucasian languages lack agreement in person but show gender
agreement. In some branches of the family, plural personal (non-third
person) pronouns use non-human noun class (gender) agreement. Chumakina,
Corbett and Kibort (2007), when discussing these forms, mention a similar
use of inanimate agreement instead of first and second person in Barasano
(based on Jones&Jones 1991).

Could you refer me to more languages that do the same? I do not mean using
inanimate nouns as substitutes for personal pronouns - but personal
pronouns controlling inanimate agreement - or possibly other connection
between first to second to inclusive reference, on the one hand, and
grammatical means having to do with lower-than-human segments of the
animacy hierarchy.

Somewhat more broadly, I am interested in any discussion of down-shifting
along the animacy (human to non-human) hierarchy as a means of negative
face strategy in terms of Brown and Levinson's politeness theory. This
shift should however be distinguishable from downshifting along the person
hierarchy (first&second&inclusive to third person reference), widely
attested in the languages of the world as politeness strategy but not
(necessarily) assuming change from human to non-human reference).

Michael Daniel
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