[Lingtyp] Pronominalised proper names in Old Tamil

Samia Naïm samia.naim at cnrs.fr
Mon Mar 25 12:18:11 UTC 2019

Dear colleagues

I am relaying to Dr Appasamy Murugaiyan (a.murugaiyan at wanadoo.fr <mailto:a.murugaiyan at wanadoo.fr>), a specialist of Old Tamil (EPHE-UMR 7528 Mondes iranien et indien), who is interested in the languages where the proper names take PNG markers and agree with the predicate.

Here is his request :
« Pronominalised proper names in Old Tamil»

In Dravidian languages, particularly in OlD Tamil, a special construction known under different terms such as “Pronominalised Noun, Participial Noun, Appellative Verb, Conjugated Noun, Personal noun”  is used. From a historical perspective. This pronominalised noun (PNN) is formed by affixing the Person Number and Gender (PNG) marker to any stem (STEM + PNG). These PNN forms in 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons are attested in many Classical Tamil verses with distinctive grammatical functions as argument or predicate. Whereas, in Modern Tamil the PNN forms as occurred in 1st and 2nd person nouns have almost fallen into disuse and those in 3rd person, though are in use, this, however, tends to be generalised and lost their Person distinction. On the contrary, in Tamil inscriptions ((9th to 12th Century CE) the PNN seem to be frequently used. A detailed analysis of the data from the inscriptional Tamil reveals not only that PNN are used in wider grammatical contexts and preserve their multifunctionality, they also found to exhibit a unique feature where, the proper names are pronominalized. The pronominalisation of proper names is not at all attested in other corpus of Tamil.
In Tamil, the bare form of proper names, with out any marker added, are difinite and 3rd person singular names.

Peter   koḍu.tt.āṉ                   ‘Peter gave’    
Peter     give.past.3rd.s.m

In modern Tamil to say « I, Pater, gave » a eriphrastic construction is used:

Peter   ākiya               nāṉ      koḍu.tt.ēṉ
Pater     be.ADJP           I           give.past.1s

ADJP = Adjectival participle

But in the the Tamil epgraphic corpus (9th to 12th Century CE), the proper name is prominalised and agrees with the verb. This construction is not noticed or 2nd and 3rd persons.

Peter.ēṉ          koḍu.tt.ēṉ
Peter.1s             give.past.1s

This construction « proper name+PNG », is noticed only in Tamil epigraphic texts and I think it is an innovation. 
This type of pronominalisation is noticed in Elamit. DAVID W. McALPIN, Proto- Elamo- Dravidian: The Evidence and its Implications 1981, THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY.
The comparison proposed by David McAlpin is mainly based on the pronominalisation construction shown above.

The question is: Are there other languages wher the proper names take PNG markers and agree with the predicate or for any other syntactic reasons.

Thanks and Best regards

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