Pronoun worries

By the way, I’ve lately been thinking that animate 3rd person pronouns in Ayeri are terrible from a naturalistic point of view: it’s -ya for masculine, -ye for feminine, -yo for ‘neuter’ (effectively, things considered animate but 1. whose gender is unknown; 2. which don’t overtly display, or don’t possess, sexual dimorphism; 3. also occasionally groups of mixed gender). I think it’s rather untypical for natural languages to exhibit that kind of regular vowel alternation to show changes in the same category?

Plus, animacy actually doesn’t play any important role in Ayeri, that is, there are no syntactic restrictions imposed on inanimate constituents, for example – which doesn’t preclude introducing some in the future, but I wasn’t aware of this for a long time and I am somewhat hesitant to break continuity. But anyway, animacy in Ayeri is mostly just a formal thing that is limited to third-person verbs, noun case suffixes, and pronouns (besides, 8 × 12 distinct personal pronouns – minus a few mergers – are also kind of silly). It could just as well be dropped and nothing would be lost. On the other hand, a certain level of redundancy in signals is actually a good thing if the transmitting channel is impaired. If you’ve ever had a conversation in a loud environment, you know what I mean. But still, meh.

Comments are open, should you have any suggestions or natlang evidence you want to share.

2 thoughts on “Pronoun worries

  1. FWIW, Swedish has the following 3rd-person singular pronouns: “han” masculine, “hon” feminine, “den” common gender (yes, it’s complicated), “det” neuter, and lately a fifth one “hen” has been evolving as an alternative to clumsier expressions like “han eller hon” (“he or she”). (Technically, “den” and “det” are demonstrative pronouns, but in actual usage, the lines get blurred. “Han”/”hon”/”hen” are only used for persons, whereas “den”/”det” can be used to refer to pretty much anything. But I digress.)

    So, essentially we have “hVn”, where masculine has “a”, feminine has “o”, and a third option that can’t really be called “neuter” has “e”. 🙂

    1. Danke, Julia! I hadn’t thought of Swedish, although I should have known. So I guess it’s not unreasonable then, at least, even if gender and animacy could be more strongly tied into the morphology.

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