[Lingtyp] Verbal person-number indexing reconstructed for a family/deeper subfamily?

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at shh.mpg.de
Wed Jun 20 11:38:26 UTC 2018

Changing the topic a bit: I'm glad that the term "person(-number) 
indexing" is being used in this discussion, because "agreement in 
person" seems to be extremely rare in the world's languages (found only 
in Germanic, Romance, and Anejom, according to Siewierska 1999: 239).

Many linguists use the term "agreement" in situations like Spanish "yo 
quier-o", even though in almost all languages with person indexes the 
independent personal pronoun is only used to emphasize the referent. 
This seems to be motivated primarily by the situation in German and 
English, where the pronoun is indeed obligtory and the verb can be said 
to copy its person-number features from the pronoun.

Or am I missing something? Are there other reasons to use the term 
"person agreement", e.g. in the Austronesian languages of eastern 
Indonesia that David mentions?




Siewierska, Anna. 1999. From anaphoric pronoun to grammatical agreement 
marker: Why objects don't make it. /Folia Linguistica/ 33(1--2). 225--252.

On 20.06.18 09:36, David Gil wrote:
> Ilja,
> This is not exactly what you're asking for, but perhaps close enough 
> to be of interest.  Austronesian languages typically do not have 
> verbal person-number subject indexes; however, in many Austronesian 
> languages of eastern Indonesia, verbal agreement has arisen, and, for 
> the most part, the markers in question are clearly reconstructable to 
> the earlier Austronesian independent pronouns.
> Best,
> David
> On 19/06/2018 21:52, Ilja Serz(ant wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> I am looking for families (or subfamilies with a larger time depth) 
>> for which verbal person-number subject indexes / "agreement" affixes 
>> (featuring the intransitive subject for ergative lgs.) are 
>> reconstructed. (I already have data on Dravidian, Semitic, 
>> Indo-European, Maya, Finno-Ugric and Turkic but I need more for my 
>> study on the dynamics of these).
>> I would be very grateful for any reference.
>> Best,
>> Ilja

Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10	
D-07745 Jena
Leipzig University
IPF 141199
Nikolaistrasse 6-10
D-04109 Leipzig

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