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Re: Mixed person plurals

From:John Vertical <johnvertical@...>
Date:Saturday, August 6, 2005, 20:37
So I've finally gone thru all of Tom's messages on this subject that had
sedimented on my "To do" pile ... I didn't really find as much to say on the
subject this time as I thought I had, but thanks for all your help anyway!

>[THIRD AND FOURTH PERSONS] > >"Apparently most" linguists -- that is, as-near-as-/I/-can-tell-most >linguists -- divide grammatical persons into "local" (involved in the >conversation) and "non-local" (not involved in the conversation). >Ususally "local persons" means "the speaker and the addressee"; that is, >the interlocutors. Everyone else is usually "non-local". > >But there are at least two ways "involved in the conversation" could be >re-interpreted to give us a concept of "local third persons". > >One way would be John Vertical's idea of "hearers other than the addressee" >-- anyone who can clearly hear and understand the conversation is "local", >even if they are not a speaker nor an addressee; let your conlang have a >third local person, and another (necessarily fourth) person for people >further away.
Update: I re-analyzed my "3rd person vocative" as "non-local 2nd person". This way the system is more symmetrical, with local and non-local pronouns for both 2nd and 3rd persons. Also, it simplifies the pronoun construction phase a lot - I have my dual inventory complete now. Ask and I'll post it. Any higher numbers will have to wait until I have my plural system finished - I have an interesting new idea I'm working on, but it's nowhere near completion (or even discussability at this moment!) But this necessites (sp?) trimming my definition of "local" a bit; anyone who is close enough that they _could_ participate are local. 2P are addressees, 3P are non-addressees.
>Another way, attested by the natlang Mokilese (according to Greville >Corbett's "Number", and he is referring to Sheldon Harrison's 1976 >"Mokilese Reference Grammar"), is to consider the major players, the topics >and foci, the protagonists and deuteragonists as it were, of the sentences >making up the conversation, as "involved in the conversation" and proper >antecedents for the 3rd person; while the low-prominence adjuncts, bit >players, extras, tritagonsts and chorus- >members are proper antecedents for the 4th person.
Makes sense. Sounds like it's simply a more abstracted version of the locality distinction.
>Corbett says Harrison's "Remote Plural" can be both Corbett's "Plural of >Abundance" and Corbett's "Global Plural"; but I think it could be your >plural-inclusive-of-4th-person, instead; that is, we could re- >analyze these "Remote Plurals" as differing in Person, rather than in >Number. (If we wanted to, for purposes of deciding what to imitate in a >conlang, for example.)
Yes, looks similar. The main difference seems to be that the remote people exist only in higher grammatical numbers , ie need to form a "horde".
>[2ND FROM LOCAL 3RD IN 2+3 WHEN MORE THAN SINGULAR] >In your proposed system, when you are referring to more than one person, >all of whom are present and can hear, and some of whom you are addressing, >why do you need to distinguish between those you are addressing and those >who can merely hear? >I think this may not be a very commonly useful distinction.
Yes, this is a result I've ended myself also up with. I do distinguish a 2+4 sort of plural, tho, and I suppose that might even be used when the other guys _are_ present, to insinuate that they are supposed to shut the hell up. All these sorts of interesting hues aren't really as possible if I rigorously differentiated all possible arrangements, or just grouped everyone under one word :)
>[1ST PERSON GREATER-THAN-SINGULAR] > >Many people have noted that there is little use for a true 1st-person- >plural as distinguished from 1st+2nd, 1st+3rd, or 1st+2nd+3rd. > >It is useful in chants, songs, or prayers in unison; and perhaps elsewhere, >where there are actual multiple speakers; but, generally, "we" doesn't mean >"we speakers", it generally means "I, the speaker, plus others with whom I >am associated in this statement".
In a sense, even the kind of "true" 1st person plural you described does mean "me and others". The individual singers sure wouldn't refer to any of the other singers in the first person, would they?? Still, I can think of a few (even rarer) cases where a true 1st person plural might be used. First, the "royal we"; second, multiple personality disorder; third, clones. Certainly not everyday instances, but who knows, I do recall hearing about a scifi world where everyone has two persons in their head... so given what list we're on, it's not a choice to *completely* abandon. ;)
>You may therefore find it unnecessary, since you are going to have 1+2, >1+3, 1+4, 1+2+3, 1+2+4, 1+3+4, and 1+2+3+4 person pronouns in your conlang, >to have any 1st person other-than-singular pronouns exclusive of 2nd, 3rd, >and 4th person.
Sure - and I'm currently almost sure that not all of the above will be distinguished. Dual is limited to inclusive (1+2) and exclusive (1+3 OR 1+4); larger plurals may end up having more complex forms, but I still think I'll eventually settle up with maybe 4 at most. [snip]
>Your conlang, with its many "inclusive persons", could make very >constructive use of this Minimal vs Augmented instead of Singular vs Plural >scheme.
I mentioned making 1+2+2 a "dual" form of 1+2 (itself "singular") already; but I haven't after all found as much use for this distinction in non-1st-person pronouns. Essentially it lets one have larger exactly defined sets of people, but do I really need that?? I think I'll rather just use a paucal of some sort.
>Here is a four-grammatical-person six-grammatical-number inventory of >(genderless, caseless) emphatic pronouns
[massive construction snup]
>The system is not all that unreasonable considering the amount of >information it is tasked to deliver. > Many languages have two-syllable pronouns; this one has three-syllable >pronouns, not a big step up.
If for the simplest pronouns the "proto-core" were shorter (say, -ei- rather than -agko-) the most common pronouns could be made mono- or bisyllabic...
>Each root pronoun differs from each other root pronoun in at least two >phonemes.
Yes, that was impressive, tho it might be feasible even with a few phonemes less. I also rather liked your number suffix derivation. :)
>This is what you could do if you did not wish to reduce your pronoun >inventory.
Well... I certainly don't want *that* much precision. Tho most of my reduction is done on the number dimension. Another note - a language which specified number for each person involved in the pronoun could have an even more complex a system. I can certainly imagine separating "2P singular + 3P singular" from "2P singular + 3P plural", etc. (I'm employing this to limited effect; see below)
w00t! Thanks bunches for the 'stats! (sidenote: has anyone ever used Latin numbers in their conlangs' orthographies?)
>Reading in Anna Siewierska's "Person", one typology (she cites Cysouw >2000:86 on her p. 85) she uses types languages according to how they >distinguish and/or group ten possible referents, three of which are >individuals and seven of which are groups.
>(Siewierska won't use the term "fourth person" in this book. She does >discuss most of the ideas people have meant by "fourth person", including >obviative (itself having several meanings), logophoric pronouns, >long-distance reflexive pronouns, and indefinite-reference- >person pronouns (like English "one"). But she does each under its own >heading, not under "fourth person".)
Eh, makes sense to me, "4th person" being such a vague catch-all term. Maybe I should abandon it too and just use "non-local 3rd." [snip]
>In the footnote (at the foot of page 83) to the above comment, she >mentions that languages with a /dual/ may very well distinguish between >the 2+2 group and the 2+3 group in the /dual/ number (as opposed to the >plural number).
Hee! That's exactly what I'm doing too. So I'm on the right track, then. (One of the goals of uwjge is to be "logical", ie to make sense to me, while still maintaining a naturalistic quality.)
>As for the 2+2+2 vs 2+2+3 vs 2+3+3 distinction: >If the language distinguishes between 2+2 and 2+3 in the dual, then it can >(and some of them do) distinguish, in the plural, between, on the one hand, >2+2+2, and on the other hand, 2+2+3 and 2+3+3. >But, if it has no "determinate" number greater than dual but less than >plural (i.e. if it has no trial number -- paucal won't do because paucal is >/in/determinate) -- then, if I read her correctly, no natlang attests >distinguishing the 2+2+3 and 2+3+3 groups from each other in paucal or >plural.
That's quite obvious, as the difference between "2+2+3" and "2+3+3" is only that of a determinate number. Unless you mean a "plenty of 2 but only some of 3" vs. "plenty of 3 but only some of 2" type of distinction. Anyway, I deemed that unnecessary too, as well as the 2+2+2 distinction. (Situations where a large group is addressed all at once seems rare. Note that my (local) 2nd person may not be used if a reply is not expected!) But I still want to employ the idea of a "semi-determinate" plural or paucal form, which will (in this case) imply that there is *one* 2nd person and an indeterminate amount of local or non-local 3rd (4th, if you will) persons. This contrasts both with a dual and a more indeterminate plural. ---
>Godie has four genders and six personal pronouns (five of which are >vowels). >One gender is Human; it has one singular and one plural pronoun. The >singular >pronoun is a single vowel; the plural pronoun is "wa". Three genders are >Non-Human. One is "mostly" Big Animate; one is "mostly" Small Animate; one >is the residue. Each has its own singular pronoun; they share a plural >pronoun. These pronouns are all single vowels. Definiteness of a noun is >denoted by >encliticizing the pronoun on the end of it. >Except for human nouns, >any noun whose stem ends in a front vowel is represented by the pronoun e, >any noun whose stem ends in a central vowel is represented by the pronoun >a, >and any noun whose stem ends in a back vowel is represented by the pronoun >o.
Neat! Do you know which gender corresponds with which vowel?
>The pronoun used for a noun completely determines its gender.
So all 4 genders' singular pronouns are single vowels, and there are 3 vowels which can be used as pronouns ... Um, isn't 4 > 3, last I checked? Also, what about the non-human plural pronoun? If that's a single vowel too, how can it be recognized as a _plural_ pronoun? Does it take a plural marker?
>So, a Natlang (Godie) does what Texperanto does, except from the last >letter instead of the first, only with vowels (not with consonants), and >with the vowels grouped.
It's certainly a similar process, tho more limited. And I doubt it would be analysed as "use the last vowel of the word as a pronoun" rather than "use the gender marker as a pronoun". What I found so unique about the Texperanto approach was basing the pronouns _solely_ on the _phonetical_ shape of the word, rather than it's morphological or lexical qualities; and unless I misinterpreted you, Godie morphology causes gender to be deductable from any random noun's shape. This is not the case in Texperanto. Unless you wish to analyze that that language has 26 genders, corresponding with the initial letter of a word...
>Aside from Godie and the Krue languages, note that Swahili and other Bantu >languages often have "overt genders"; (most or many) noun-classes in which >(nearly) all the nouns' singular forms begin with a certain sound or >syllable, and (nearly) all their plural forms begin with a (sometimes the >same) sound >or syllable.
[snip] Yes. So you're suggesting this as a Texperanto-style phenomenon too? See debuttal above.
>For the most part, this means most Bantu sentences sound like lines of >alliterating Viking poetry.
BTW, random association ... does any language have poetry based on the "core" of the word? So a suitable pair for "battery" would not be "summery" nor "Batman", but "rottening". This approach apparently requires words to be at least trisyllabic.
> >Tom H.C. in MI
John Vertical _________________________________________________________________ Hotmail vai Hotmail Plus? Tutustu palveluihin.


tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>Mixed person plurals: gender & the (in/ex)clusive distinction; !Ora