[Lingtyp] Definition of “personal pronoun"

Christian Lehmann christian.lehmann at uni-erfurt.de
Mon Jul 12 09:49:56 UTC 2021

I second Bill’s verdict that terms are not defined in isolation; 
definitions have their place in a theory. The concepts defined have 
their place in a taxonomy and/or meronomy. And since our theories are 
empirical theories, if two objects systematically share some 
ascertainable property, then it is useful to subsume them under a 
suitable hyperonym. For instance, if you have a language in which not 
only interrogative pronouns, but also interrogative pro-adjectives and 
even interrogative pro-adverbs share some formal properties like 
starting with /wh-/and some behavioral properties like preferring the 
initial focus position etc., then a hyperonym like ‘interrogative 
proform’ is useful. And once you have defined it (in your theory of 
interrogation, grammaticalization (of proforms) etc.), you can even use 
it in the description of a language whose interrogative proforms do not 
seem to share formal properties or which does not even seem to have such 
a class, just in order to conveniently state this fact. Needless to say, 
the same goes for personal pronouns, proforms in general and just anything.



Prof. em. Dr. Christian Lehmann
Rudolfstr. 4
99092 Erfurt

Tel.: 	+49/361/2113417
E-Post: 	christianw_lehmann at arcor.de
Web: 	https://www.christianlehmann.eu

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