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Mixed person plurals: gender & the (in/ex)clusive distinction; !Ora

From:tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 9, 2005, 21:25
I thought it would be worthwhile to draw the attention of everyone
interested to the !Ora person-paradigm that Anna Siewierska
calls "the fullest person/number/gender paradigm that I have come

On pages 110-112 of her 2004 "Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics"
book "Person", in chapter 3 "The structure of person paradigms"
section 3.3 "Variation in gender" subsection 3.3.3 "Gender and the
inclusive/exclusive distinction", she credits Michael Cysouw's 2000
PhD dissertation "The paradigmatic structure of person marking"
(Catholic University of Nijmegen) as saying that there are very few
exceptions to the principle that, the inclusive/exclusive distinction
does not tend to co-occur with gender markings in forms involving
speaker or addressee.

Then she goes on to give statistics out of her own library of
languages to back up that claim.

The exceptions she knows of are so few (8) that she lists them rather
than counts them; !Xu, Baniata, Vanimo, Ndjebbana, Nama, Kera, Kalaw
Kawaw Ya, Nunggubuyu, and Itonama.  For seven of them, the gender
distinctions do not occur in all persons nor in all numbers.

But, in !Ora, for which she refers to Tom Guldemann's 2001 MS "Die
Entlehnung pronominaler Elemente des Khoekhoe aus dem !Ui-Taa" from
the University of Leipzig, the gender marking embraces all persons,
in all numbers.

The table she gives is (77) on her page 111.
The genders are Feminine (F), Masculine (M), and Common (C).
Common gender is used for groups which contain individuals of more
than one individual gender.

I am not sure what she, or perhaps it is Guldemann (Guldermann?),
means, by the 3rd person singular common gender; does that mean
neuter? or non-human? or inanimate?

........ SG ..... . DU ........ . PL
1 EXCL C ........ . s-im ...... . csi-da
1 EXCL F ti-ta .. . si-sam .... . si-se
1 EXCL M ti-re .. . si-kham ... . si-tje

1 INCL C ........ . sa-m ...... . sa-da
1 INCL F ........ . sa-sam .... . sa-se
1 INCL M ........ . sa-kham ... . sa-tje

2 .... C ........ . sa-khaoo .. . sa-du
2 .... F sa-s ... . sa-saro ... . sa-sao
2 .... M sa-ts .. . sa-kharo .. . sa-kao

3 .... C ll'ai-'i . ll'ai-kha . . ll'ai-ne
3 .... F ll'ai-s  . ll'ai-sara  . ll'ai-de
3 .... M ll'ai-b  . ll'ai-khara . ll'ai-ku

Thirty-one (31) forms in all; three persons, three numbers, three
genders, two "clusivities".  Six forms are monosyllables; four are
trisyllabic; the other twenty-one are two syllables apiece.


FWIW, FYI, and for comparison with whatever anyone else wants to do.


In my own conlang, if I ever get around to it, I think I will have a
reduced set of genders available for addressees (2nd persons), though
not for speakers (1st persons).

I expect (sort-of plan) to have a gender distinction
between "Rational" and "Non-Rational" whose semantic core will
basically be; if it can use language (in the sense of produce brand-
new, never-before-uttered, comprehensible, grammatical, meaningful,
relevant sentences, /and/, comprehend such sentences produced by
another source) then it is rational.

I expect (sort-of plan) to have a gender distinction
between "Sentient" and "Non-Sentient".  The "Sentient" ones can
naturally and easily be the Experiencers and Perceivers in
Experiencer/Stimulus clauses; the Non-Sentient ones will require
grammatical legerdemain to take those roles.

I expect to have a three-degree distinction of Animacy.  The Freely
Animate gender will have, as its semantic core, those entities which
are capable of translative motion (moving themselves from place to
place) under their own power and control; this gender will be
naturally and easily the Agents of Agentive verbs and Active Voice
clauses.  The Bound Animate gender will have as its semantic core
those entities which are not Freely Animate, but are capable of non-
translative motion (motion, such as blinking or breathing, in which
they do not move themselves from place to place) under their own
power and control; they will require some "grammatical legerdemain"
to be Agents of Active Voice sentences, but will have no trouble
being in the Middle Voice.  The Inanimates will be the residue; they
will not naturally nor easily fit into either the Active nor Middle
Voices as "agents"; it will require "grammatical legerdemain" to make
them anything but "patients".

The thing is;
People in real-life natlangs do indeed address non-Rational entities
all the time.
In order to be an Addressee, and entity must either be Rational, OR:
it must be Sentient and at least Bound-Animate.
Why have a 2nd-person gender?
The usual excuse for doing without gender in the 1st and 2nd persons
is "the participants in the discourse already know what gender they
True enough if both are "Rational".
And of course only a "Rational" entity can be the Speaker.
But, if a non-Rational hears an utterance, how does it know whether
or not it was the one addressed?
A good clue would be, if the 2nd-person words in the utterance were
marked with a non-Rational gender.

Well, what does anyone think?


Tom H.C. in MI


Remi Villatel <maxilys@...>