This book explores person markers, the linguistic elements that provide points of reference to speech-act participants. Michael Cysouw develops a new framework for the typology of person marking based on a rejection of the notion of plurality for its analysis.
When a mother says "Mummy is going to say goodnight now", Mummy is the person marker in a way that in English is confined to motherese but which is used more commonly in some other languages and may also be characteristic of much earlier forms.
Dr Cysouw divides the person markers of 400 languages into paradigms. He considers how the structure of these person paradigms relates to their function. His investigation provides a clear account of how person markers work syntactically, pragmatically, and semantically as well as giving fresh insights into aspects of linguistic change, language-relatedness, and the interfaces between discourse, syntax, and semantics. The combination of a typological and a comparative approach results in the first outline of a cognitive map of the paradigmatic structure of person marking.