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Summary Details

Query:   Tense marking on pronouns - Part 4
Author:  David Palfreyman
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Morphology

Summary:   c) If languages do mark tense on pronouns, does this contradict Western notions of physical continuity of the self? Propositional tense marking does not seem to be related to notions of physical continuity of the self. Regarding non-propositional marking, however, the difficulty which respondents had in even conceptualizing the meaning of a tensed pronoun suggests that it contradicts some kind of basic cognitive schema, whether ?Western? or universal. Beate Waffenschmidt commented that ?I thought the literature took it as read that temporal continuity of the self was a ''cognitive universal''?, while Martina Wiltschko commented of the examples above from Upriver Halkomelem that ?this doesn't contradict the physical continuity of the self, it just means that the ''self'' is deceased?.
Philip Riley (University of Nancy 2, France) cites an interesting sounding book related to this topic: M?hlha?sler, P. and Harr?, R. (1990). Pronouns and People: The Linguistic Construction of Social and Personal Identity. Oxford: Blackwell. gives the following synopsis for this book: ?In recent years the idea of a determinate relation between language and reality, both social and physical, has been revived, and in consequence the writings of Sapir and Whorf have once again come to be of interest. In this book Rom Harre and Peter Muhlhausler defend a version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, with emphasis on the role of language in the creation and maintenance of social relations. Since pronouns are, they believe, the main grammatical devices by which acts of speaking are tied to the persons who are engaged in the conversation, they investigate how pronouns are employed as a means of coming to understand the ways that speech and society are related. Their book has a second simultaneous concern with the social and situational contexts of grammar. Using this approach in the study of pronouns, several assumptions, such as the hypothesis of the independence of grammar, the choice of the sentence as the unit of analysis and the ''substitution'' theory of pronoun use, have all come into question. The conclusions drawn in this book are based on a broad corpus of data from many and diverse cultures, coupled with a survey of the literature concerning this topic.?

LL Issue: 14.1205
Date Posted: 29-Apr-2003
Original Query: Read original query


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