Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Conceptualization of pronouns

1. In spoken Kannada if a person is required to get the attention of somebody s/he would use third person plural pronoun ivare or avare. This is a significant aspect of a language, I feel. In my opinion, the third person (for human and non-human) is the first one to come into usage among pronouns. One can live without using any pronouns while chatting. Therefore, personal identifiers (names) are invented before pronouns.

2. I have observed females using he or him instead of s/he or him/her in their writings. Does that mean they are conditioned to use 'he' because of patriarchy? I think not. Ideally, I would have expected men using masculine pronoun and its genitive case and females using feminine. But if a Kannada ( where third person plural avaru (they, their) is used in such context) speaker, naturally uses masculine pronoun then that in my opinion betrays innate third person neutral (ie.both for human and non-human) beginning of that word.

3.1 The concept of pronoun arises in calling sounds.
3.2 The pronoun system is strongly associated with the glide 'y' in any language.
In Kannada if one wants to call somebody the crude form can be Ey or Oy. By (1), this glide y must have been used for third person pronoun initially then extended for other two pronouns with some modification.

This property can still be observed in Tulu among Dravidian languages and English among IE languages.

The Tulu word for I is yAn; you was yI (now it has become I ) and he is Aye. In English first person pronoun is Ay; second person pronoun is yU and third person pronoun was Iy (now it has become hI).

4.1 The declension of neutral pronouns (eg. 'he' in English) or genderless markers (eg. 'an' in Kannada/Tamil) tends towards masculinisation(Patriarchy?).
The morphemes 'an' and 'ad', which are used to differentiate between human and non-human forms in Dravidian languages are later developments. These innovations for a great extent have kicked out the glide 'y' from pronouns in most of the Dravidian languages. In fact, morpheme 'an' was only a human marker initially. In Tulu, both genders say yAn ( Vy + a + an) for I. Kannada (that even shows gender marking for second person singular verb) uses only nInu (probably, n + Vy + ee + an) in second person singular pronoun. Hence 'an' being associated with male marker must be a later development.

V: Unknown vowel. May be O as in Oy or E as in Ey.

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