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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): +---------------------------+ V | Alle gikk tilbake til setet sitt or 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. t.