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Review of  The Paradigmatic Structure of Person Marking

Reviewer: Wolfgang Schulze
Book Title: The Paradigmatic Structure of Person Marking
Book Author: Michael Cysouw
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Genetic Classification
Issue Number: 15.284

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Cysouw, Michael (2003) The Paradigmatic Structure of Person Marking,
Oxford University Press, Oxford Studies in Typology and Linguistic

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Wolfgang Schulze, University of Munich


One of the perhaps most uncontroversial claims related to universal
aspects of human language concerns the concept of personhood. In
linguistic work, this conceptual layer often is taken for granted and
escaped from further elaboration, especially in descriptive work. On
the other hand, personhood has been a crucial issue especially in
language philosophy, yet rarely reflected in standard linguistic
treatises. Not surprisingly, Paul Forchheimer's famous doctoral
dissertation (Forchheimer 1953) has remained the only comprehensive
survey on 'personal pronouns' for fifty years. Admittedly, a number of
individual papers and allusions to the issue in studies related to
typology and semantics have appeared on the linguistic market
deepening the insights in the linguistic expression of
personhood. Nevertheless, the author of the book under review can only
be praised for having undertaken the enterprise not just to revise
Forchheimer's approach, but to present a typology of personhood that
is based on contemporary cross-linguistic methodology and that
exploits both the specialized literature published since Forchheimer
1953 as well as proposals related to typological generalizations.

To say it from the beginning: What we have now at hands is perhaps the
best survey on the paradigmatic organisation of linguistic personhood
ever compiled. Micheal Cysouw's 'The Paradigmatic Structure of Person
Marking' (henceforth PSPM) represents a revised version of his 2001
University of Nijmegen doctoral dissertation and we can only thank
Oxford UP for having accepted the book to be published in its 'Oxford
Studies in typology and Linguistic Theory' series. The inclusion of
PSPM into this series not only guarantees the attention of the world-
wide linguistic audience but also conditions that Cysouw's work is
packed into a well-done and appealing format. Hence, we can expect
that PSPM will soon become a standard book of reference for issue
related to the morphology of personhood that by far exceeds the
quality of its predecessor, namely Forchheimer 1953.

Nevertheless, PSPM cannot be uncontroversial. The reader should
constantly recall the title of the volume that focuses on
'paradigmatic structure'. In other words, it deals with aspects of
form that are related to functions. This classical form-to-function
(here: paradigm- to-function) approach necessitates certain deductive
claims on categorial and semantic issues used as a 'tertium
comparationis' in Cysouw's formal typology. However, Cysouw avoids
pathways that would start with a general discussion of categorial
aspects of personhood as present for instance in the tradition of
language philosophy, in language sociology, and linguistic
psychology. Perhaps, this reluctance to design a 'semantic' template
of personhood is due to the fact that even in very recent approaches
to the semantics of linguistic units as expressed for instance in the
framework of Cognitive Semantics, the question of personhood rarely
exceeds very general statements related to the function of 'person
markers' in a speech act. In PSPM, the author devotes just three pages
(pp.5-7) to discuss some semantic issues of personhood. Not
surprisingly, he makes reference especially to those authors who
relate personhood to its role in a turn-taking cluster of speech acts
(especially Goffman 1979, Levinson 1988). Accordingly, his definition
of 'person marker' reads as follows: ''They have to be a shifter,
specialized for that function, and used for reference to speech act
participants'' (p.5). Much can be said about this delimitation of
person markers, which clearly shows that Cysouw is not too much
interested in the underlying semantics of such markers. For instance,
it soon comes clear that the definition does not necessarily hold for
so-called non-Speech Act Participants (termed 'other' by Cysouw): This
category (if ever it is a linguistic category at all) is not marked
for shifter functions, nor do the corresponding forms always
specialize in the given function (e.g. demonstrative pronouns used as
third person pronouns). In addition, they do not (as their name tells)
make reference to speech act participants as such. In fact, a
semantic-based typology of personhood would probably have to start
from a rather different categorial setting, which would transgress
most of the constraints or delimitations set up by the author. Most
crucially, it would distinguish a cognitive layer of personhood from
its pragmatization in discourse (e.g. in the sense of Mead 1934, Mauss
1938, Schulze 1998:575-601).

It thus comes clear that the reader will appreciate PSPM especially if
(s)he has adopted the author's form-to-function approach. A different
approach, e.g. based on Cognitive Typology, would probably have led to
an alternative design of the paradigmatic embedding of linguistic
forms related to the concept of 'person' and of the paradigm internal
dynamics (see below). Perhaps it is one of the few shortcomings of
PSPM that it does not draw the reader's attention to this fact.

PSPM is an extremely rich book, full of data and stimulating
observations. It is out of question that the author had developed an
invaluable tool to handle the paradigmatic structures of personhood.
His cross-linguistic approach is based on the analysis of the relevant
paradigms in more than four hundred languages and hence represents one
of the broadest cross-linguistic studies ever prepared. In this
review, it is impossible to account for all types of paradigmatic
variation as they are elaborated in PSPM. The reader will greatly
enjoy both the presentation of these paradigms: Cysouw uses a very
helpful schematic representation which allows the reader to constantly
refer to the general paradigmatic space described by the author and to
locate the given data in this space. The reader will also profit from
the careful presentation of the data which are constantly checked
against their sources and thus can serve as a reliable data base for
further studies.

Instead of detailing out the universe of paradigmatic variation and
dynamics, I will briefly describe the overall scheme of the book under
review before turning to some general remarks on the approach
advocated for by the author.


PSPM comprises xiv+375 pages, divided into four major parts, which
again are enclosed by an 'Introduction' (pp.1-35) and a 'Finale:
Summary and Prospects' (pp. 295-321). In order to help the reader to
easily retrieve information, the book gives a list of languages
according to their genetic/geographical distribution, and three
indices (names, languages, and subjects). The nature of the book
conditions that the list of references is of considerable size
(roughly some 600 entries). The fact that the author has consulted
primary sources as much as possible, illustrates the tantalizing work
Cysouw has undertaken. Nevertheless, it must be added that certain
relevant pieces of literature are missing, such as Russel 1940, Mead
1934, Mauss 1938, Anscombe 1981, Kantor 1952, Lévi-Strauss 1962,
Myrkin 1964, or Majtinskaya 1969.

The introductory chapter nicely outlines the scope and objectives of
PSPM. Most importantly, Cysouw makes clear that once the set of
personal markers have been delimited, they have to be analysed in
terms of the paradigms they establish. The 'content' of such paradigms
may exceed or go behind of what we know from Standard Average
European, to use a nevertheless problematic term. Just in the
beginning of the Introduction, Cysouw acquaints the reader with the
famous passage from Domingo de Santo Tomás' 'Grammática o arte de la
lengua general de los Índios de los Reynos del Peru' (1560) that lays
the ground for the well-known distinction between an 'inclusive' and
an 'exclusive' 1pl. We have to thank Cysouw for having made available
again this important passage (p.2) both in its original and in

The Introduction also discusses the question of defining the
paradigmatic space of personhood, addresses methodological issues and
gives a brief report on previous cross-linguistic investigations on
the given topic.

Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 discuss basic aspects of person marking. In
Chapter 2, Cysouw refers to the ''The Marking of Singular
Participants'',y"cely entitled ''One among the Crowd'' (p.41). Here,
the author concentrates on questions of homophony, suggesting that a)
such a homophony is comparatively rare, and that b) it is restricted
to inflectional patterns. He argues for nine 'logical' types of
homophony, eight of which he is able to back up. The ninth type is
marked by second person = zero, 1/3 is marked, hence we have to deal
with the opposite of e.g. the German type _ging_ (1/3) vs. _gingst_
(2) 'went'. However, if we look at admittedly rather specialized
paradigms such as the cluster imperative-hortative, we may add many
such examples, compare Udi (Lezgian) _campazu_ (1), _campa_ (2),
_campane_ (3) 'write' (note that here, only markedness is used as a
criterion, not the form of the marker itself). In addition, Cysouw
describes the degree of variation that can be found with respect to

In Chapter 3, the view is extended to 'group marking'. Here, Cysouw
suggests a very helpful redefinition of the notion of plurality. He
arrives at a very important point, saying: ''First, the multiple
persons or objects have to be in the same predicative role. Second,
the morpheme has to be unmarked as to the specific amount of elements.
Finally, the morpheme should not include the regular reference for any
singular person or object'' (p.67). Undoubtedly, this chapter
represents one of the many highlights of the book. It carefully
introduces the reader to the world of pronominal 'plurality'.

Chapter 4 and 5 extend the discussion prepared in the preceding
chapters to a typology of paradigmatic structuring. Cysouw develops
his typology with the help of mnemotechnically useful terms that stand
for specific 'types' (e.g. Latin-type, Sinhalese-type etc.). Each of
these types serves as a template to discuss variations within this
type. Again, he distinguishes non-homophonous split-types from those
which show some kinds of homophony. A further distinction concerns the
presence of the inclusive/exclusive dichotomy. Cysouw arrives at a
total of sixty-three paradigmatic structures (p.165) and advocates
against the assumption that most of these types represent corrupt or
extended version of the SAE type marked for the typical six-way
paradigm. Nevertheless, his findings allow him to observe eight common
types, five semi-common types, whereas the bulk of paradigmatic
variation is characterized as 'rare'.

Discussing 'compound forms' in Chapter 5, the author clearly argues in
favour of an 'incorporation' strategy. Compound forms are those that
either cumulate different persons (e.g. 'we+you') or render a given
reading of a pronominal form more explicit (e.g. the Russian inclusive
_my s toboy_ ('we [that is] with you', a striking analogy can be found
in Inuktitut, see PSPM, p. 183)). Hence, Cysouw distinguishes a
cumulative reading from an incorporative reading and arrives at the
following conclusion: ''The referential value of the compound pronouns
either builds categories that are well known (...) or has identical
reference as to the non-singular simplex pronouns'' (p.184).

Chapter 6 and 7 turn to 'true' number forms. Having eliminated the
concept of 'plurality' from the descriptive frame for quantitative
reference with person markers, Cysouw correctly assumes that person
markers are sensitive for number only if they refer to a concrete
number of persons/objects. The author proposes the category of
'restricted groups' to denote this number layer. Restricted groups
usually turn up as duals or trials. The (basically graphic)
metalanguage developed by Cysouw is a powerful tool to account for
variations in number. Nevertheless, it should be added that the
glosses are slightly irritating, because the 'non-restricted group'
section lacks such a corresponding glossing that would indicate the
kind of reference towards person. Perhaps, it would have made sense to
add glosses such as '1+2x' (= EGO + unspecified number of TUs), '2x'
(= unspecified number of TUs), or '1+3x' (= EGO + unspecified number
of non-Speech Act Participants' etc.).

Chapter 6 introduces the reader to the world of restricted number.
Here, the author extensively discusses the problem of interpreting the
inclusive, which Cysouw views as an ambiguous category (wavering
between sg, du, and pl). Chapter 7 turns to ''the diversity of
restricted groups: a survey of dual person marking''. Both duals with
and without an inclusive/exclusive distinction are discussed, again
concentrating on the types of homophony observed especially with bound
pronouns (in sum thirty three paradigms).

Chapter 8 turns to the diachronic dimension. Note that Cysouw uses the
term 'crypto-diachronic method', which he describes as follows: ''The
method (...) is not a historical comparison, but a typological
comparison that starts from the broad typological generalization and
tunes into the fine-grained differences with a genetic group''
(p.247). The author sets up four conditions 'cognate' paradigms have
to meet in order to be taken into consideration (p.248). Curiously
enough, 'regular sound correspondences' are not among these criteria,
although diachronic shifts present with the formal expression of
person markers are crucial for both determining a cognate set and the
conditions of change. Instead, Cysouw concentrates on questions of
homophony and degree of explicitness in order to describe paradigmatic
change. In other words: Paradigms are taken as some kind of 'gestalt'
that tend to change with respect to their properties over time. The
fact that Cysouw neglects the dynamics of sound changes renders it
difficult to understand what he means by ''phonologically closely
related'' (p.268). How does the author decide to decide that two
forms are related according to this criterion?

For instance, the southern German dialects usually called 'Allemanic'
show a third person plural 'bound morpheme' (present tense) _-et_
instead of _-en_. This difference accounts for a varying pattern of
homophony (Allemanic 3sg+2pl+3pl / 2pl vs. Standard German 1pl+3pl /
3sg+2pl). If we would not know that the 3pl stems from _-ent_ that
regularly developed into _-et_ in Allemanic, but to _-en_ in other
dialects of German, we would perhaps assume that the paradigms are not
related (admittedly, I cannot say whether Cysouw would interpret the
'correspondence' -_t_ ~ _-n_ as being 'phonologically close related').
Or: How can we decide that German _-st_ (2sg) is related to say Latin
_-s_ (2sg), but not to _-t_ (3sg), if we would not know that _-st_ is
derived from *-s + *thu (you:sg)?

These examples may be trivial from an Indoeuropean point of view.
Nevertheless, I would like to stress that the criterion mentioned
above should be taken with great caution because especially with
languages that lack a scientifically elaborated diachronic, similarity
in form may turn out as 'false morphological friends'. Or vice versa:
Formally non-similar forms may be based on the same morpheme (recall
the Armenian nominal plural _-k`_ which corresponds to say the Latin
-s- Plural). On the other hand, formal 'similarity' is sometimes used
to construe rather problematic assumptions on the categorial
affinities. For instance, p. 272 Cysouw starts with the Nabak (a
Finisterre-Huan language from Papua) third person (group) _ekngen_ and
derives it from the 3sg _ek_ saying ''[t]he singular morpheme (...) is
compounded with the second person non-singular [_in_] morphemes (sic!)
to form third person non-singular forms''. It is indeed difficult to
understand how this compounding should yield a third person
non-plural. The homophonous 2/3 non-singular _gin_ of closely related
Wantoat does not help very much, because here the third person
singular is _an_. Hence, we would have first to prove that Nabak _ek_
and Wantoat _an_ are related. Only if this correspondence can be
safely described with the help of sound laws, we may go on and try to
analyse forms like Nabak _ekngen_).

Nevertheless, it is out of question that Cysouw arrives at a very
compelling picture of paradigmatic dynamics. Personally, I doubt
whether we can go so far to design a 'cognitive map of interconnected
paradigmatic structures' based on the criteria set up by the author
(p.268). Still, Cysouw's approach can surely help to better understand
the dynamics of paradigmatic change.

Chapter 9 extends the diachronic perspective to dual forms. The highly
illuminating examples helps him to refine the generalizations of
paradigmatic dynamics made in the previous chapter. He again refers to
the two hierarchies suggested before (Explicitness Hierarchy and
Horizontal Homophony Hierarchy), to which he adds the Dual
Explicitness Hierarchy. A 'cognitive map of paradigmatic structure'
nicely summarizes the options of paradigmatic change. Here, another
word of caution seems appropriate: It is rather modern to refer to
'cognitive maps' in order to account for semantic or categorial
correlations. However, each such 'cognitive map' should always be
embedded into a more general theory that explains how paradigms are
represented in cognition (if ever they are). Naturally, it is rather
attractive and seemingly self-evident that the categories of
personhood reflect a conceptual layer that organizes the
inter-individual discourse. However, we may likewise assume that
personhood is not a cognitive 'category' at all, but a side-effect of
other cognitive (here: perceptual) 'mechanisms' (such as figure-ground
parsing, empathy, distribution of knowledge among individuals and
related presuppositions). In other words: What is at need is a
cognitive theory of paradigms that goes beyond the standard
assumptions of semantic and formal correlations. In the final chapter
of PSPM, Cysouw first summarizes his central observations. He then
tries to approach a 'theory of person marking' before turning to
'prospects'. Here, he turns the reader's attention to the correlation
of 'independent' vs. 'inflectional' person marking. Accordingly,
there is ''a correlation between less explicitness in the paradigm
(meaning more horizontal homophony) and more inflectionally marked
pronominal paradigms'' (p.313). In addition, Cysouw considers the
crucial point of 'asymmetry of affixation' (segmenting a paradigm into
prefixing and suffixing strategies). Here, the authors arrives at an
interesting observation: ''[T]here is a correlation between the size
of the paradigm and the affixial status. (...) [T]he smaller paradigms
are more often prefixes and the larger paradigms are more often
suffixes'' (p.316). Finally, Cysouw briefly alludes to the question of
gender marking. Here, I would have appreciated a more concise
treatment especially of the question whether gender really is a
''curious linguistic phenomenon'' (p.319) when present with the first
singular. We should recall that grammatical descriptions rarely tell
us whether an informant has been a woman or a man. Keeping in mind
that in many societies, women are forbidden to interact with
'strangers', we may doubt that the description of personal paradigms
sufficiently considers the language of women. In other words, gender
studies are not a central issue of language typology. We have to
assume that both the group- internal language of women as well as
their self-reference in the 'male world' (in terms of social deixis)
may considerably differ from what we can find in standard grammars.


It comes clear that the more 'deviations' from SAE-typical paradigms
become, the more a well-defined delimitation of Person markers becomes
necessary. Here, Cysouw argues that an analysis of personal paradigms
must not be restricted to 'free' pronominal forms, but has to take
into consideration 'bound' forms, too, as they may show up in term of
inflection. For both he observes: ''Diachronically, person markers do
not behave differently from other linguistic elements. They
grammaticalize from independent nouns into person markers. Also
independent pronouns grammaticalize into inflectional person markers''
(p.5). These two claims, however, cannot be left without comment:
First, 'if' person markers may stem from 'nouns', Cysouw violates his
own criterion of functional specialization at least from a diachronic
point of view: it is a well-known fact that grammaticalization hardly
ever happens in terms of function 'hopping', say from 'referential' to
'shifter'. Rather, we have to refer to a scenario (best described in
terms of grammaticalization chains) that allow the (intermediate) co-
existence of two or more functional domains in one and the same form,
be it from a diatopic or a diastratic point of view. Hence, 'if'
Cysouw's assumption about the origin of Person Markers is right, we
have to assume that there must have been a time, when such markers
served for more than just to indicate aspects of personhood (Cysouw
himself draws the reader's attention this fact (p.13)). In order to
save the case, the analysis has to be confined to paradigms at the
'end' of the grammaticalization chain. Doing so means to deprive
oneself of the possibility to explain the make-up of a paradigm from a
diachronic perspective, which again does not make sense, if one
subscribes to the fact that paradigms of personhood belong to the
universals of language (in what shape so ever).

In addition, the criterion of functional 'specialization' presupposes
that the category of person is an 'autonomous' category in language.
However, we may likewise assume that 'person' results from the
blending of different categorial or functional layers (see Mauss
1938). Both 'pronouns' and 'inflectional person markers' are always
embedded into both constructional 'frames' and the general Speech Act
typology. For instance, a first person singular is prototypically
linked to assertions, whereas the second person singular is linked to
modal constructions such as imperatives or questions. It may well be
that a second person is - in its form - conditioned by the
'grammaticalization' of interrogative strategies (a nice example is
German _-st_ (2sg) already referred to above: The clitization of _-t-_
< *_thu_ etc. ('you:sg') can only be understood, if we start from an
interrogative pattern, which is marked by a verb-initial construction
in polar yes/no-questions. From this, we may conclude that any
personal marker is likely to encode (or to be semantically conditioned
by) more than just the category of personhood. In other words: The
delimitation as proposed by Cysouw serves heuristic purposes rather
than 'cognitive reality'. For instance, the author counts the Lak
(East Caucasian) clitics (not suffixes!) _-ra_ (1/2sg), _-ri_ (3),
_-ru_ (1/2 non-sg) as person markers (p.127), although their primary
function is that of a so-called bipolar focus that has a side-effect
as for the category speech relevant (_-ra_ / _-ru_) vs. non-relevant
(_-ri_). In fact, none of the three markers are person markers at all.

Furthermore, Cysouw's claim quoted above alludes to popular
assumptions on grammaticalization patterns that are perhaps to
strongly oriented towards the path 'noun -> non-noun'. If we browse
through the diachrony of those personal pronouns the history of which
can be (more or less) safely described, we soon realize that it is
extremely difficult to postulate with certainty the original nouniness
of such pronouns. This difficulty is related to the observation that
(singular) personal pronouns often belong to the most stable forms of
a language from a diachronic point of view, both with respect to form
and to function. Hence, when reconstructing a given pronoun, we often
arrive at just another form of the pronoun, but not at something like
a noun. On the other hand, Cysouw importantly neglects other
hypotheses on the origin of personal pronouns that relate them to the
set of demonstratives or more general to deictic terms (a nice example
is Liebert's approach to Indoeuropean pronouns, see Liebert 1957, also
confer Majtinskaya 1968, Schmidt 1978, Schmidt 1994).

Finally, the quote also refers to what can be cautiously call a
'linguistic myth'. Accordingly, 'bound' morphemes used to
subcategorize personhood are often regarded as grammaticalized
versions of the corresponding free pronouns, whether or not these have
been retained in a given language. Although Cysouw only states that
pronouns may turn up as bound morphemes (which is correct), it is
important to note that he does not tell whether other
grammaticalization paths are possible, too (such as focus and other
deictic markers, specialized copular constructions etc.) and which
impact such paths may have had on the organization of a paradigm.

As has been said above, the architecture of personal paradigms
represents the core issue of PSPM. In order to render his data
comparable, Cysouw has to make a number of further delimitations some
of which are crucial for his arguments. Most importantly, he neglects
functional clusters that involve personhood. Rather, he tends to split
off such clusters and to describe the architecture for each paradigm
separately. The main reason for doing is to guarantee cross-linguistic
comparability: ''The result of this approach is an insight into the
paradigmatic structure of person marking. Only indirectly will this
help us to understand the functioning of a whole language'' (p.10). I
am not quite sure whether the perspective taken by Cysouw is
well-chosen. It disregards the possibility that paradigmatic
structures are motivated by their co-paradigmatic environment. An
example is already given above. Let me briefly illustrate this point
with the help of another example: In Archi, another East Caucasian
language, the first person singular _zon_ is embedded into a standard
paradigm opposing sg to non-sg pronouns, if we look at the absolutive
case. However, this pronoun is the only one which knows a distinct
ergative form (_zári_). On the other hand, the second person
(sg/non-sg) is the only categorial entity which does not reflect the
noun class of its possessum if used as a possessor. Obviously, it is
the specific conception of agenthood and possessorship in Archi that
accounts for these paradigmatic 'split' types. In the Upper Andi
variety of Andi, again an East Caucasian language, a slightly
analogous split is found: Here, the 1sg _din_ has a distinct ergative
form _den_ in the language of women, whereas men use _din_ for both
absolutive and ergative. Curiously enough, the Keleb dialect of Avar,
a language (distantly) related to Andi, turns the paradigm around: In
this language, the 1sg ergative is present in the language of men, but
not in the language of women. In Chechen, again an East Caucasian
language, the emphatic-reflexive variants of the personal pronouns do
not distinguish between 2pl and 3pl (_s^äs^_), whereas the
non-emphatic variants do. In addition, the inclusive _vay_ (borrowed
from an Indo-European language) is the only pronoun that does not know
an ergative case.

These examples illustrate that it would perhaps have made more sense
to first construe the cognitive space of personhood in the individual
languages before starting the comparison. This concerns both the
referential behavior of 'pronouns' and the relational behavior of
agreement forms (e.g. tense/aspect/mood; diathesis etc.). In other
words: It seems doubtful that generalizations resulting from the
cross- linguistic comparison of individuated paradigms will tell us
more than just what is possible in language. Cysouw himself is well
aware of this problem. Nevertheless, he argues: ''[A] paradigm is a
set of linguistic elements that occur in the same syntagmatic place in
the structure of a language'' (p.8). In order to also reflect
TAM-categories etc., he should have added: ''and that belong to the
'same' superordinate paradigm''. However, contemporary grammar
theories that belong to the camp of e.g. Cognitive Linguistics will
likely challenge this view. Cysouw assumes that a person marker
acquires its function only because it is embedded into 'its' paradigm
that includes 'other' person(s). However, it is rather likely that
the same holds for the syntactic and temporal-spatial embedding of
such markers (Cysouw himself draws the reader's attention to this
point (p.49)). In other words, a 1sg is a 'first singular' (EGO) also
because it is embedded into the paradigm of agenthood, a 2sg is a
second singular (TU) also because it is embedded into the paradigm of
modality (question/command etc., see above). Accordingly, much
depends from which dimension is referred to when describing
'paradigms'. The way Cysouw has chosen in PSPM is rather traditional
and perhaps too strongly focused on the notion of 'speech act

Finally, let me briefly turn to the data presented by the author. He
writes: ''Every delimitation proposed for a cross-linguistic study is
bound to encounter exceptions and problematic cases when confronted
with the actual linguistic variation'' (p.19). Nevertheless, it can
safely be said that Cysouw's presentation of the data and the choice
of his sample exhibits a highly learnt approach that guarantees the
high quality of his analysis. Unfortunately, his sample is somewhat
biased by the evident neglect of Russian sources. This fact conditions
that the domain of Turkic and Mongolian languages is strongly
underrepresented. Modern Iranian languages are lacking completely,
although their paradigms add crucial information. Another 'laboratory'
of personhood, namely the East Caucasian languages are quoted (except
for Hunzib) from second-hand sources only, some of them rather dubious
or at least too superficial (see Schulze 1999 and Schulze 2003 for
some details on East Caucasian pronouns). Hopefully, the deplorable
fact that Russian sources are rarely respected in cross-linguistic
comparison will soon face revision.


In sum, PSPM represents a courageous and highly innovative approach to
the paradigmatic architecture of personhood from a cross-linguistic
perspective. Contrary to what Cysouw says, no parts of the book are
boring or redundant. The author has developed a highly stimulating way
of handling and presenting cross-linguistic data, which helps the
reader to safely navigate through the world of linguistic variation.
(S)he is well-equipped with a huge amount of data and a methodological
'compass' guaranteeing that (s)he never loses orientation. I am not
quite sure whether the 'ship' Cysouw invites us to embark will bring
us to the final destination, namely to a coherent 'theory of
personhood in language'. May well be that Cysouw's journey through the
ocean of person markers is comparable to Christopher Columbus'
journeys that reached the Caribic islands but not (yet) the
mainland. In other words: PSPM is an important step towards these
mainland, which will be probably not reached without considering
Cysouw's impressive work.


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Wolfgang Schulze is the Head of the Institute for General Linguistics
and Language Typology at the University of Munich. His main research
topics include Language Typology, Cognitive Typology, Historical
Linguistics, language contact, the languages of the (Eastern) Caucasus
and Inner Asia, and 'Oriental' languages. He currently works on a
Functional Grammar of Udi and on a comprehensive presentation of the
framework of a 'Grammar of Scenes and Scenarios' in terms of 'Cognitive