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Fourth person was Re: CONLANG Digest

From:Peter Clark <pclark@...>
Date:Friday, May 26, 2000, 11:46
On Fri, 26 May 2000, Muke Tever wrote:
> >Are there any languages, (natural or homemade) that have a sort of double >pronoun... ack, I don't know how to say it. > >Here: >"He told him the truth about his mother."
My terminology is a little rusty, but I would say that the words you are looking for is "fourth person".
>From this in English we can gather that 'he' and 'him' are different people, >but out of context we have no idea whether 'his' refers to the 'he' man or >the 'him' man. To make it clear in English would want something like: > >"He told him the truth about his (John's) mother." > >but would it be common (or practical?) for a language to mark _his_ to match >the relevant pronoun, like: > >"He1 told him2 the truth about him2's mother."
From what I gather, this sort of marking is relatively common. Russian has it: On skazal jemu pravdu o jego matjeri. He1 told to+him2 truth about his2 mother. On skazal jemu pravdu o svojej matjeri. He1 told to+him2 truth about his1 mother. Here, "svoj" (declined in the sentence to "svojej" to indicate the prepositional case) shows that the subject is the owner. "Svoy" is actually a very versatile word, and can appear in the first and second person, as well as third person. Ja ljublyu cvoju zhjenu OR Ja ljublju moju zhjenu I love my (own) wife I love my wife Ty ljubish' cvoyu zhjenu OR Ty ljubish' tboju zhjenu You love your (own) wife You love your wife BUT: On ljubit cvoju zhjenu He loves his (own) wife On ljubit jego zhjenu He loves his (another's) wife One could get into potentially uncomfortable situations if one is not careful... :) There are also languages that have a true "fourth" person. Can't think of any off the top of my head, except for Enamyn, but I haven't gotten around to specifying the details of what the fourth person will be like. But I am sure that there are other nat- and conlangs that have this very handy feature... :Peter