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OT: Opinions wanted: person of vocatives

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 1, 2003, 1:50
I'm working on paternosters in my two conlangs, and I have
a question about the first line (wow, I've gotten far!).

The older English form is "Our father, which art in heaven";
the verb "art" is conjugated in the second person singular because "which"
refers to "father", which is in the vocative; it's the person being
addressed, and therefore considered second person.

In modern English it's "Our father, who is in heaven".  The relative
pronoun is considered third person because "father" - and indeed, all
nouns - can only be third person in modern English.  Only the pronouns can
be first or second person, though that can include relative pronouns when
the antecedent is a personal pronoun: "I who am honored to be here";
"You who are my friend", etc.

So now I have a decision to make with my conlangs, which boils down to
this: are vocative nouns considered to be second or third person?

I thought I would solicit opinions from the group.  Informed reports of
actual natlang usage, anecdotes about your own languages, and pure
unadulterated aesthetic opinion are all welcome. :)



James Worlton <jworlton@...>
Peter Bleackley <peter.bleackley@...>
Costentin Cornomorus <elemtilas@...>
Muke Tever <muke@...>