50 votes

Is there a technical name for when languages use masculine pronouns to refer to both men and women?

This strategy to deal with person groups of mixed gender or with single persons of unknown or undetermined gender is named generic masculine. It is quite frequent among languages with grammatical ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
38 votes
Accepted

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

Yes there are. Examples include Greenlandic and Cree. It's not exactly what you asked for, as it doesn't depend on whether it's the last antecedent, or second-to-last antecedent. But in these ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
33 votes

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender?

In Thai, 1st person singular pronouns differ by gender: Masc.: ผม [pʰǒm] Fem.: ดิฉัน [dìʔt͡ɕʰán]
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
30 votes

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender?

Coming at this from a different direction, Japanese personal pronouns (*) are an open class, with many variations in meaning and connotation. So while there's no official "first-person masculine ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
29 votes

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender?

Proto-Afro-Asiatic likely marked gender on second-person pronouns, and many of its descendants do the same. For example, second-person singular masculine is אַתָּה (ʔattāh) in Hebrew, أَنْتَ‎ (ʔanta) ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
28 votes

Is English unusual in having no second person plural form?

English marks plurality in first and third person pronouns (I vs. we, he/she/it vs. they), but not in the second person (you). (The singular thou did exist in English in the past, but is now ...
b a's user avatar
  • 2,775
18 votes
Accepted

Pronoun introduced before its antecedent

Yes, it's been extensively studied; perhaps the first paper was Ron Langacker's 1966 "On Pronominalization and the Chain of Command". The major generalization seems to be statable as A pronoun may ...
jlawler's user avatar
  • 10k
18 votes

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender?

In Spanish that happends for plural: nosotros (1st person plural masculine) nosotras (1st person plural femenine) In Japanese there are several forms for the first form depending on gender or even age!...
Daniel's user avatar
  • 181
16 votes
Accepted

Are there any languages that have a pronoun which is only used to refer to royalty?

From what I've heard, Korean has traditionally had two first-person pronouns reserved for royalty: 과인(gwain, 寡人) and 짐 (jim, 朕). They are both borrowed from classical Chinese, I think. Korea does not ...
jick's user avatar
  • 1,111
14 votes

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

One interesting marker of social distinctions is an avoidance register, a special way of speaking to certain family members. You might also hear this called mother-in-law language or hlonipha/...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
14 votes

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

In some sign languages, pointing is used as a pronoun. It makes different distinctions to the ones made by English pronouns. In English, he, she, this, that and it are different. He and him are ...
Robyn's user avatar
  • 281
12 votes

Are there any languages that have a pronoun which is only used to refer to royalty?

According to Travis' comment in a Language Log blog post titled Royal Language, a first-person pronoun 朕 (chin) was used exclusively by the Japanese Emperor. (I note that this seems to be the same as ...
user2474226's user avatar
12 votes

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

Aside from obviative third person pronouns mentioned by OmarL, some languages have what are known as 'reflexive' pronouns. These pronouns refer directly back to the subject of the clause that they are ...
Austin Hemmelgarn's user avatar
12 votes

Is there a technical name for when languages use masculine pronouns to refer to both men and women?

The masculine gender/noun class in many languages will be the unmarked option, with other genders/classes being marked. It is often (though not always) possible to use a less marked gender/class. ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
  • 6,192
11 votes

Is English unusual in having no second person plural form?

Although largely archaic, in some locations (some parts of Northern England/Cornwall/Ireland, among others) the word "ye" is still used as second-person-plural. It can also be found in some older ...
Chronocidal's user avatar
11 votes

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

Niger-Congo languages tend to have a system of noun classes, somewhat similar to gender in Indo-European languages (in terms of adjectives having to agree with nouns, for instance), but consisting of ...
LjL's user avatar
  • 1,849
11 votes
Accepted

Are there languages without T-V distinction (but with two pronouns, one exclusive to singular, the other to plural)?

Sure. Latin has tu and vōs, Swahili has wewe and ninyi, Hittite has zik and sumes, Ancient Greek has sŷ and hymeîs, Akkadian has atta/atti and attunu/attina… Outside the Standard Average European ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
11 votes
Accepted

What effect does the wrong T-V pronoun have on truth-value?

The choice of register (how respectful you're being) is generally considered a pragmatic matter, not a semantic one. In other words, it could potentially make an utterance infelicitous, but cannot ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
10 votes
Accepted

What is the function of a gender distinction in nouns?

Assigning nouns to a certain noun class, with other words taking various forms by agreeing with that noun class (e.g. adjectives, determiners, or verbs marking the noun's gender) allows you to spread ...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 8,322
9 votes

What is the name for the phenomenon or process by which the brain knows what "it" in a sentence refers to?

Within some branches of linguistics, it may be referred to as any of the following: reference resolution pronoun resolution pronoun reference resolution anaphora resolution Notice that reference ...
Araucaria - him's user avatar
9 votes

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

Analogous to the word "maestro" in Western classical music to refer to conductors, Hindustani Classical music has "ustad" and "pandit" to address virtuoso performers. While either of them can be ...
prash's user avatar
  • 3,649
9 votes

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

English "honorifics" can denote marital status (for women only) - Mrs. vs Miss. (The newer Ms. marks the addressee as a woman without specifying marital status. All men are Mr. regardless of marital ...
solublefish's user avatar
9 votes

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender?

In Polish, pronouns are used much less than in English, since their role is largely subsumed by the verbs inflecting for person, and in 1st and 2nd person, past tense has different inflection ...
mathrick's user avatar
  • 191
8 votes

'm' in the words meaning first person

For the specific pronouns that you mention, the explanation is that those languages are Indo-European and have a common historical origin (*me, *tu). This happens to extend to Uralic, and the branches ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
8 votes
Accepted

Plural form as respect form - based on what?

Wikipedia has a good summary of the T-V distinction & the various strategies used across different languages. The singular-plural distinction is just one strategy, and not the most common one. ...
Mark Beadles's user avatar
  • 6,860
8 votes
Accepted

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

For English in particular, we have older stages of the language attested: Shakespeare, Chaucer, whoever wrote Beowulf. And we can see that in Beowulf "the" had the force of a demonstrative, but ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
8 votes
Accepted

Are there languages where pronouns are marked entirely with conjugations?

WALS chapter 35, "Plurality in Independent Personal Pronouns", by Michael Daniel, mentions several candidates: two languages reported to have no plural independent subject pronouns or no ...
brass tacks's user avatar
  • 18.1k
8 votes

Why do two English personal pronouns — "you" and "it" — lack an objective case?

I would not say that these pronouns lack an objective case. It is just that the subject (nominative) and object (accusative) forms are identical. In Old English, as in virtually all Indo-European ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.2k
7 votes

Does Japanese have pronouns?

The OP focused on one peculiarity of Japanese pronouns: they can be qualified. One can note that in English 'me' rather than 'I' would be qualified and if there is any conjugation it will be in the ...
Mathieu Bouville's user avatar
7 votes

What is the linguistic term for 'it'

It is a neutral (as opposed to feminine "she" and masculine "he"), singular, third person personal pronoun (not an adjective).
Luís Henrique's user avatar

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