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Re: Pronouns, where are they?
Brian Eric Farnell wrote:
Alas, Brian, even in languages that have pronouns
usage can make them very, very scarce. I have been
reading Sebastian Englert's grammar of the Easter
Island language, and fishing for examples in his
dictionary. The use of personal pronouns is avoided.
You find the same in Breton, and Pierre Jakez Helias
explains it in his books on Breton culture: you
should avoid addressing people directly. If you
want to ask "where are you going?" the proper way
of doing it is "where is one going?" And, in fact,
I remember how I used to adapt my French, unconsciously,
to my Breton relatives' way of expressing themselves:
I would use "on" instead of "tu" or "vous".
Here is a concrete example out of
Englert's Rapanui dictionary, where he reproduces
the recipe for roasted chicken intestines. You
do this, you do that (never a "you"), and finally:
"he kai" which is, literally, "to eat," understood
are "you" and "it" (or "them"): "you eat it."
Some languages have no pronouns. Japanese for instance.
Others have only two: me (or we), and anyone else.
(This last weirdo is from Papua-New Guinea, as you
might have guessed).
Once again, we are babes in the Voynich woods, lost.