Re: variable pronouns
|From:||taliesin the storyteller <taliesin@...>|
|Date:||Monday, August 21, 2000, 22:51|
* Jim Grossmann <steven@...> [000822 00:12]:
> In Steven Pinker's "The Language Instinct," a read that some languages have
> distinct forms for pronouns that stand for variables. So if our variable
> pronoun = X, then we'd have sentences like this: "Everyone returned to X's
> seat" for "Everyone returned to his/their seat."
> Can anyone name any languages that have such pronouns?
> Can anyone describe the variable pronouns that occur in their own natlangs
> or conlangs?
I don't know if this is what you meant... but in Norwegian you have the
"garpe-genitiv" (Garp's genitive), a "universal" possesive pronoun
agreeing with the posessee not the posessor:
sin (m/f) si (f) sitt (n) sine (pl)
Your example sentence could be either (stunt-translated):
Alle gikk tilbake til setet sitt
Alle gikk tilbake til setene sine
It is sometimes used instead of genitive-s:
husets hund > huset sin hund
hus -et = house, neuter definite singular
hund = dog, masculine indefinite singular
and sometimes for emphasis
min sin hund
min = my, masc/fem singular
Its use is regarded as substandard and childish by some, much like
double negatives in English I suppose, but they're quite versatile and
handy and some of the needed workarounds (involving other possesive pronouns)
can be quite inelegant, not that I can improvise an example here and now.