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Re: THEORY: The fourth person

From:Tamas Racsko <tracsko@...>
Date:Wednesday, April 28, 2004, 5:19
On 26 Apr 2004 Danny Wier <dawiertx@...> wrote:

> How exactly does the so-called 'fourth person' work in Athabaskan > languages like Navajo (Dine)?
I have a Mojave example pair: "n'a.isvar.k i:ma.k" 'when he/she sang and he/she [the same person] danced' vs. "n'a.isvar.m i:ma.k" 'when one sang and someone else danced'. In the first sentence, there are the same 3rd person marker "-k" on both verbs, because both have the same subjects. In the second example personal markers ("-m" and "-k") differs because the subjects aren't the same. Stricly speaking, 4rd person is a 3rd person agent that is not the same as the previously referred 3rd person agent. Another example, Cree "-api-" 'to be at home': "api.w" 'he/she [3rd person] is at home' vs. "api.jiwa" 'someone else [4nd person] is at home'
> and do any other languages have it
As far I know it's an Amerind feature, but it exists in another Amerind phyla, e.g. Algonquin and certain Penutian (Maidu) languages have it. However, the 4th person is only one of the possible instances of the obviative concept. Another instance can be found in Slavic languages. In these languages the possessive adjectives/pronouns have obviative form. E.g. Russian "on chital svoyu knigu" 'he read his [own] book' vs. "on chital yego knigu" 'he read his [someone else's] book', where "svoy" is the 3rd person possessive adjective and "yego" is the masculine obviative (or "4th person") one.