3rd person pronouns (was: a question about names)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, September 30, 2004, 18:34|
On Thursday, September 30, 2004, at 03:30 , Mark J. Reed wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 29, 2004 at 09:12:42PM -0400, Etak wrote:
>> Tarnese, my conlang, has no gender at all, which seems
>> to work quite well at first glance. I've just realized
>> though, that there is no distinction between whether
>> something written, or said, in the third person refers to a
>> man or a woman.
> Great! Why should there be such a distinction?
Quite so - AFAIK most languages outside of the IE and Semitic groups don't
>> Could you please give me some suggestions as to how I might fix this
> I don't see it as a problem at all.
As mark says - What problem?
> Such a distinction only serves a practical purpose when, for example, a
> man is talking to a woman and you wish to indicate which of the pair is
> speaking; but even languages with gender-specific pronouns, like
> English, still have that problem when two men or two women are speaking.
And English, and many other languages, have a problem when we mean either
male or female. The tradition in the past has generally been to use the
masculine forms "If everybody did his duty...."; but there has been a
drift in English from at least the 19th cent. to use 'they' with a
singular, epicene meaning "if everybody does their duty...." - but this is
still frowned upon by pedants (and is occasionally the source of YAEDT
thread on Conlang :)
No, having sex distinction in 3rd person pronoun IMO creates as many
(possibly more) problems than it solves.
> Klingon has no gender distinctions either. Among natlangs, I'm given to
> understand that the Mandarin 3rd-person singular pronoun used to be
> genderless, but modern Mandarin (under Western influence, I presume) has
> introduced a specifically-female version while continuing to use the
> genderless to refer to males - which seems a step backwards
> sexual-equity-wise, IMHO.
I agree - but as John has pointed out, this applies to the written
language only. In speech it is _ta1_ for both,
>> P.S. My Latin-English dictionary has a grammar overveiw in
>> the back of it, and I noticed yesterday that there are no
>> third-person nominative personal pronouns. Why is this?
> Because Classical Latin had no third-person nominative personal
> pronouns. :)
It did - but only the reflexive pronoun _se:_ which, of course, cannot by
definition have a nominative form.
> The demonstratives served the purpose; you said
> "this one" or "that one" instead of "he" or "she".
> Of course, Latin has nominal gender, and the demonstratives agree in
> number with
> the demonstratee, so Latin actually has more ways to disambiguate among
> multiple nouns than most languages
Yep - it did indeed.
> (three different demonstratives, each
> of which can take any of the three different genders).
Four at least: is, hic, iste & ille. Also _ipse_ could serve that purpose
and the relative pronoun was often used to mean "...and he"/ "...and her"/
"...and them" etc. etc. AS you say, more ways to disambiguate than most
On Thursday, September 30, 2004, at 02:37 , David Peterson wrote:
> I believe that Latin had no third person pronoun. Am I right
> on this?
Only the reflexive pronoun _se_.
> And the third person pronouns of the various Romance
> languages were derived from the words for "this" and "that"...?
Yes - mostly from _ille_ - but a few, like Italian _eso_ are from _ipse_.
> A language can do without a third person pronoun.
Indeed it can.
Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
which is not so much a twilight of the gods
as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]