Questions tagged [pronouns]

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45 votes
9 answers
7k views

Is there any language that uses different pronouns for "we" depending on whether the spoken to person is included in the group?

As in "we are going out tonight" using a different word for "we" depending on whether you mean "me and some other people" or "you and me (and potentially other people as well)".
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33 votes
5 answers
7k views

What languages lack personal pronouns, and why?

The Japanese language lacks personal pronouns in the IE sense. Japanese is very pro-drop, and often sentences will be constructed so personal pronouns do not appear, and the agents which the pronouns ...
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20 votes
4 answers
3k views

Does Japanese have pronouns?

It is often said that Japanese doesn't really have a pronoun word class, such as in the Wikipedia article on Japanese Grammar: Although many grammars and textbooks mention pronouns (代名詞 daimeishi), ...
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38 votes
8 answers
7k views

Are there languages that don't have this kind of ambiguity?

In the sentence "John told James that he's happy.", the pronoun "he" is ambiguous, since it could refer to either John or James. Are there any languages which try to solve this ...
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  • 383
21 votes
3 answers
1k views

Are there any fundamental differences in personal pronoun acquisition across languages?

I am interest in reversal errors in personal pronoun acquisition. My knowledge comes mostly from studies done with English-speaking children, and I was wondering if there is any languages where this ...
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27 votes
17 answers
17k views

Is there a language without gender in third person pronouns?

English (as most Indo-European languages) has a gender-neutral third person pronoun, it, but it is typically not used for people; if one wants to be gender neutral, one is often stuck using he or she. ...
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  • 431
22 votes
9 answers
5k views

Do any languages mark social distinctions other than gender and status?

Many languages have pronouns that reflect gender, and some have pronouns that reflect relative social hierarchy or formality. (To pick an example I actually know, in Dutch the second person singular ...
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  • 321
6 votes
1 answer
583 views

How did the Portuguese pronoun "se" take on these other functions?

In Portuguese, the third person accusative pronoun se ("himself/herself/itself/themselves") can be used for four different purposes: 1.) Most straightforwardly, as a reflexive pronoun: Mantém-se ...
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1 vote
1 answer
147 views

Why is it thought that definite articles develop from deictic markers, and not the other way around?

I read here that "it is cross-linguistically common for definite articles to develop from deictic markers"; "deictic" referring to words such as "I" or "here" whose meaning is dependent on context. ...
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0 votes
1 answer
227 views

Find head noun, "he himself"

I have run into a problem when I am trying to find the head noun for a NP in this sentence. I haven't been able to find any rules explaining why one of them would be head, or if they even belong in ...
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