How to make 1st person Neutr?

A forum for all topics related to constructed languages
Post Reply
User avatar
Isfendil
greek
greek
Posts: 709
Joined: 19 Feb 2016 03:47

How to make 1st person Neutr?

Post by Isfendil » 06 Mar 2019 07:48

What possible ways could grammatical diachrony produce a neuter and/or animate neutral distinction in the first person pronouns of a language with MF+ Gendered pronominal classes? Possible paraphrasis or other strategies? Scribal practice influencing spoken language? I speak of course from a grammar perspective, leave societal postulates out of it please.

User avatar
gestaltist
mayan
mayan
Posts: 1796
Joined: 11 Feb 2015 11:23

Re: How to make 1st person Neutr?

Post by gestaltist » 06 Mar 2019 10:50

The real question is why you would need it - and it would inform the how.

If you're asking purely about grammar, agglutination is your best bet. (I.e., have an affix for gender or person that is added onto some base form.) An example, albeit on verbs and not pronouns, is Polish, which has a hypothetical 1st person neuter. It's not used to the best of my knowledge but could be easily formed by adding the first person suffix onto a 3rd person neuter verb: "poszło -> poszłom" ("it went -> I-NEU went")

User avatar
Creyeditor
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 4509
Joined: 14 Aug 2012 19:32

Re: How to make 1st person Neutr?

Post by Creyeditor » 06 Mar 2019 12:22

In some languages pronouns stem from common nouns. In other languages pronouns can cooccur with an article. In both cases, you have other places to mark gender. Starting with the common noun idea, let's assume gender is marked on common nouns and the word for 'servant' develops into the first person pronoun. 'servant-F' could become the first person feminine pronoun and 'servant-M' could become the first person masculine pronoun. If children are referred to with neuter gender words (as e.g. in Mongolian), this could develop into a first person neuter form.
If pronouns cooccur with articles and case, gender, and number are marked on articles, the words could fuse, so that there is an affix that encodes i.a. gender. So you could go from 1.SG DEF.NOM.SG.N to 1SG.N for example.
Creyeditor
"Thoughts are free."
Produce, Analyze, Manipulate
1 :deu: 2 :eng: 3 :idn: 4 :fra: 4 :esp:
:con: Ook & Omlűt & Nautli languages & Sperenjas
[<3] Papuan languages, Morphophonology, Lexical Semantics [<3]

User avatar
shanoxilt
cuneiform
cuneiform
Posts: 195
Joined: 30 May 2016 06:51

Re: How to make 1st person Neutr?

Post by shanoxilt » 18 Mar 2019 02:00

This is helpful information, since Sajem Tan has first-person inanimate nouns.
Click here to join the Common Honey server. Or click here for a general glossopoeia server.

Nachtuil
greek
greek
Posts: 544
Joined: 21 Jul 2016 00:16

Re: How to make 1st person Neutr?

Post by Nachtuil » 18 Mar 2019 04:18

I don't have a solution, but I once had a similar issue in a language that had 3 animacy based genders that the verb marked. For first and second person pronouns I settled on treating everything as belonging to the most animate class with the other sentients. Non-animate entities being spoken to or speaking was so rare that not distinguishing it was sensible.

User avatar
sangi39
moderator
moderator
Posts: 3316
Joined: 12 Aug 2010 01:53
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Re: How to make 1st person Neutr?

Post by sangi39 » 19 Mar 2019 00:03

I think Creyeditor might be onto something, and some sort of "honorific" system might be one way to go at it. So, in some contexts, a gendered first-person 1pronoun might be used, while in others a neutral first-person pronoun might be used. IIRC, for example, Japanese highly formal first-person pronouns tend towards being gender neutral while informal "neutral" first-person pronouns tend to be used by children. So at least in Japanese (and please someone correct me if I've got this wrong), it looks like in highly formal situations, gender becomes less important (sort of "regardless of who I am, we're all below you, so what does it matter").

And, as has been suggested multiple times, Japanese pronouns tend to come from nouns or contractions of phrases (similar to usted and vosotros in Spanish), so it's definitely possible, as Creyeditor suggested, for your pronouns to either come from nouns or, well, older levels of pronouns (it might be that an original non-gendered first-person pronoun survives in the modern language as a gendered pronoun, for example).
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.

User avatar
Isfendil
greek
greek
Posts: 709
Joined: 19 Feb 2016 03:47

Re: How to make 1st person Neutr?

Post by Isfendil » 20 Mar 2019 05:41

Would it be possible that lexical pronouns would be devised for poetic use, if that society tended to devise lexical items for pronouns frequently? [Such as the numerous examples previously mentioned from east asian languages, thank you all]
Then that poetic use might be grammaticized later in some contexts, yes? (there are more than a few contexts both mundane and esoteric that I had in mind).

Post Reply