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1st person vocative (was: Language universal?)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, February 9, 2001, 19:14
At 4:38 pm -0800 8/2/01, jesse stephen bangs wrote:
>> On Thu, 8 Feb 2001 11:46:37 -0500, John Cowan <cowan@...> wrote: >> >> >That reminds me of the grammarians (mentioned in _The Name of the Rose_) >> >who were said to have debated for seven days and seven nights nonstop >> >on the vocative of "ego" > >Okay, I know this is completely facetious, but I can't help but wonder >what they were arguing between. I could see 'ego' or 'tu' as >possibilities . . .
_tu_ is the actually attested vocative of _tu_ (2nd person, as in "Hey, you, come here!" - Heus, tu, adueni!" As I showed in an earlier mail, except for one set of nouns (2nd. decl. masc. ending in -us), the "nominative of address" was used; and even among the 2nd. decl. masc. in -us, there was a tendency attested from the Classical period onwards for the nominative to be used even here. So IMHO there can be no reasonable doubt that if a Latin speaking addressed him-/herself, s/he would say _ego_. Facetious Jesse's reply maybe, but it touches on something more serious. As I noted in an earlier mail, the habit of speaking to oneself must surely not be a modern phenomenon; it must've happened in ancient Rome and, indeed, millennia earlier - I guess from the birth of language itself. In the extreme form we have schizophrenia and - this is an area in which, thankfully, I have no experience and, indeed, great ignorance - I assume that if there is articulated interpersonal communication between the individual's different persons then 2nd person forms are used just as they are in interpersonal intercourse between difference individuals. But what of people who do talk to themselves? On cinema & TV screens one has seen someone (almost always male as far as I can recall) looking in a mirror and saying: "Hey, you gorgeous creature, you!" (or something similar) - Does this happen in real life? Here the 2nd pers. is clearly used and the speaker is, of course, addressing his reflexion as tho it were another person. This is narcissism, and no vocative of "I" would occur. What I have experience is people actually talking to themselves and, as in the case of my long departed grandmother, arguing with themselves. "Where did I put those papers? I know, on the chest in the hall. Of course it wasn't. I never went in the hall this morning. I must've......." First person all time. But then 2nd person would crop up. "I better hurry up or I shall miss that bus. Don't be so silly - it's only half-past; you got another quarter of an hour". Possibly this is very mild schizophrenia, but quite common IME. Does anyone in any language actually address the ego in intrapersonal [sic] communication? ------------------------------------------------------------------- At 8:50 pm -0600 8/2/01, Patrick Dunn wrote: [....]
> >Actually, I understand the debate. It sounds ridiculous at first -- well, >and it's ridiculous to resort to swords, but if I were to address myself, >how would I do it? > >O, self, you are beautiful!
But _self_ is the vocative of 'self'! O ipse, tu es pulcher! (or: O ipsa, tu es pulchra!)
> >Ego, tu es pulcrus >See the problem?
----- I meant, of course, "ego, tu es pulcher." Still ungrammatical - either: Heus, tu, quam pulcher es! or Heus, ego, quam pulcher sum! The first I can well imagine some conceited young Roman saying as he saw his reflexion in a polished bronze mirror or still, clear pool. The second, tho grammatically possible, seems unlikely. It recalls Nero's supposed dying words: Qualis artifex pereo! But with these words Nero is surely not addressing himself but rather the whole world - reminding the world what a great artist it is losing. As I said earlier, do people, even with mental disorders, actually address there one ego? "Wow, I, how beautiful I am!" "Wow, me, how beautiful I am!" What is the first person singular vocative in English? Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================