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Grammatical sketch of Beng

Personal Pronoun Morphology

Section 5
Denis Paperno
p. 25-30

Texte intégral

1The structure of personal pronouns in Beng was thoroughly described in (Paperno 2005). Here we reproduce pronoun paradigms with minimal comments on the usage of pronoun series.

Table 3. Paradigms of personal pronouns

Series

Singular

Plural

Predicative
marker
with
a
singular
subject
NP

1

2

3

1

2

3

non-subject

ŋ̄

mḭ̄

ā̰ŋ̄

kā

ŋò

possessive

mɔ̄

mḭ̄pɔ̄

àpɔ̄

ā̰ŋ̄pɔ̄ // ā̰mɔ̄

kāpɔ̄

ŋòpɔ̄

reflexive

ŋ̄ drà̰

mḭ̄ drà̰

à drà̰

ā̰ŋ drà̰̄

kā drà̰

ŋò drà̰

focus (independent)

mā̰ŋ̄

mḭ̄ā̰

àɲā̰ // àɲɛ̰̄

ā̰ŋ̄ɲā̰ŋ̀ // ā̰ŋ̄yā̰ŋ̀

kāɲā̰ŋ̀ // kāyā̰ŋ̀

ŋòɲā̰ŋ̀ // ŋòyā̰ŋ̀

existential

mā̰ŋ̄

mḭ̄

ā̰ŋ̄

kā

ŋò

Ø

preterite

+

ŋ́ , má̰*

mḭ́

ó , é

á̰ŋ́

ká

ŋó

-, -3

mǎ̰

mḭ̌

wǎ

à̰ŋ́

kǎ

ŋǎ

+3

ma̰̚

mḭ̚

ā̰ŋà

ka̚

ŋa̚

conditional

+

ŋ̂, mâ̰*

mḭ̂

ô, ê

á̰ŋ̀

kâ

ŋô

+3

mâ̰

wâ, â

ŋâ

-, -3

(= habitual)

habitual

+

ŋ̀, mà̰*

mḭ̀

ò, è

à̰ŋ̀, ā̰ŋ̀

Kà

ŋò

-, +3,-3

mà̰

wà, à

ŋà

stative

+

ŋó

mḭ̄ó// mḭ̈

òó//ǒ

ā̰ŋó

kāó// kä

ŋòó// ŋǒ

-

ŋā

mḭ̄ā // mḭ̄wā

wàā

ā̰ŋā // ā̰ŋ̄wā

kāā // kāwā

ŋàā // ŋòwā

wā

+3

ŋâ

mḭ̄â

àâ

ā̰ŋâ

kāâ

ŋàâ

-3

ŋa̚

mḭ̄a̚

wàa̚

ā̰ŋa̚

kāa̚

ŋàa̚

wa̚

Notes on the table: + marks “affirmative non-contracted forms”; - marks “negative non-contracted forms”; +3 marks “affirmative forms contracted with a 3sg object pronoun”; -3 marks “negative forms contracted with a 3sg object pronoun”. More on contraction with a 3sg personal pronoun see below.

2The non-subject series has the widest range of usages, including the direct object position, the object of postposition, and the prenominal possessor. The possessive series is used as an adnominal possessor or headlessly and puts additional emphasis on the possessor (‘as for MY …’, ‘it is HIS …’, ‘our thing’). The focus series is used practically in all contexts where a noun phrase can be used, marking, in contrast to the regular subject or non-subject series, certain contrastive emphasis on the pronominal referent. I also recognize a distinct reflexive series, despite the fact that reflexive pronouns transparently consist of the non-subject pronouns followed by marker drà̰, which the consultants perceive as a separate word. The reason for such an interpretation is that drà̰ shows no morphosyntactic autonomy. It cannot change its position, be separated from its pronominal element, or attach to anything other than personal pronouns. Reflexive pronouns of Beng are exact functional counterparts of reflexive pronouns in European languages.

3The remaining series are used in the subject position, distributed according to tense, aspect, modality, and polarity values (see Chapter 12 and especially section 12.1.3). Besides this, pronouns of the existential series have a special usage as the first conjunct in a coordinate NP with A nà̰ B lō marking.

5.1. On the allomorphy of the 1sg subject pronoun

4The table above contains 1st person singular forms marked with an asterisk (*). These special 1sg forms have the stem ma̰ (instead of ŋ), and are used whenever the subject pronoun is followed by another personal pronoun (of non-subject or reflexive series) of 1sg, 2sg, 3sg, or 3pl:

(11)

Má̰

ŋ̄

drà̰

yè.

1sg:Pst+

1sg

Rfl

see:L

‘I saw myself’.

(12)

Má̰

mḭ̄

yè.

1sg:Pst+

2sg

see:L

‘I saw you’.

(13)

Má̰

yè.

1sg:Pst+

3sg

see:L

‘I saw him’.

(14)

Ŋ́

ā̰ŋ̄

yè.

1sg:Pst+

1pl

see:L

‘I saw us’.

(15)

Ŋ́

kā

yè.

1sg:Pst+

2pl

see:L

‘I saw you (plural)’.

(16)

Má̰

ŋò

yè.

1sg:Pst+

3pl

see:L

‘I saw them’.

5In those kinds of contexts the regular form with the stem ŋ is also marginally possible (ŋ́ ŋ̄drà̰ yè etc.); acceptability judgments vary.

6Note that the pronoun that triggers the selection of the 1sg stem ma̰ is not always a direct object. It can also be in the possessor position of a direct object:

(17)

Má̰

ŋ̄

wlá

lɛ̀

wà

1sg:Pst+

1sg

house

Def

break:L

‘I broke my house’.

  • 1 The “ergative” pronouns in Guro are triggered not just by morphological but also by semantic factor (...)

7The distribution of ŋ vs. ma̰ can be considered to be a manifestation of the contrastive strategy for coding core participants (along with the doubtlessly dominant accusative strategy of Beng), see (Vydrin 2006). However, there are more serious reasons for such an analysis in the case of Guro than in the case of Beng, because in Beng the choice of the 1sg form is fully determined by the morphological context and can be described as allomorphy1.

5.2. Contraction with 3sg object pronoun

8The 3sg object pronoun can contract with the preceding subject pronouns forming portemanteaus, e.g.:

(18)

Mà̰

pē!

(<

mà̰

pē)

1sg:Hab+3

say

1sg:Hab+

3sg

say

‘Let me say it!’

(19)

Mḭ̀

pē!

(<

mḭ̀

pē)

2sg:Hab+3

say

2sg:Hab+

3sg

say

‘Let you say it!’

(20)

Ŋ-â

pē.

(<

ŋ-ó

pē)

1sg-St+3

say

1sg-St+

3sg

say

‘I will say it’.

9The portemanteau forms are not obligatory. Non-contracted alternatives are also acceptable, although infrequent.

10Since contracted forms are not fully transparent, Table 3 lists them as distinct pronoun series (Pst+3, Pst-3, Hab+3 etc., where “3” stands for “contracted with a 3sg pronoun”).

5.3. Subject series of pronouns

11Information on the usage of subject pronoun series depending on clause type, tense, aspect, modality, and polarity (TAMP), is for reasons of brevity given in Tables 4 and 5 below. For sentential examples for each clause type, as well as for the full TAMP paradigm of a sentence, see Chapter 12.

Table 4. Subject pronoun usage in verbal sentences

construction

polarity :

affirmative

negative

preterite

Pst+

Pst-

perfect

imperative/optative

Hab+

habitual

Hab- = Cnd-

conditional

Cnd+

future, progressive, stative

St+

St-

Table 5. Subject Pronouns in Non-Verbal Clauses

  • 2 Sentences with predicative adjectives show both stative and habitual subject pronouns. The choice o (...)

clause type | polarity:

affirmative

negative

adverbial

St+

St-

adjectival

Hab+ or St+2

existential

Ex+

Ex-

5.4. Stative pronouns with verbs tá, nṵ̄

12Beng exhibits relics of an affirmative stative predicative marker alternative to . It is used instead of with just two verbs. Before the verb nṵ̄ ‘to come’, the stative marker can have the form yɛ́, as in mḭ̄ yɛ́nṵ̄ ‘you (singular) will come’, mḭ̄ yɛ́nṵ̄ɔ̀ló ‘you (singular) are coming’, etc. The verb nṵ̄ ‘to come’ is also compatible with the regular stative marker , as in mḭ̄ó nṵ̄, mḭ̄ó nṵ̄ɔ̀ló. The verb tá ‘to go’ fuses with the preceding stative marker into yrá (<*yɛ́ tá instead of *ó tá). Compare: mḭ̄ yrá ‘you (singular) will go’, mḭ̄ yrááló ‘you (singular) are going’. Before the verbs tá ‘to go’ and nṵ̄ ‘to come’, the final ŋ of first person pronouns fuses with the initial /y/ of the stative marker: ɲrá (< ŋ̄ yrá ) ‘I will go’, ā̰ɲɛ́nṵ̄ (< ā̰ŋ̄ yɛ́nṵ̄ ) ‘we will come’.

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Notes

1 The “ergative” pronouns in Guro are triggered not just by morphological but also by semantic factors, including the referential status of the direct object, an independently known ergativity/accusativity factor. See (Vydrin 2006) for more detail.

2 Sentences with predicative adjectives show both stative and habitual subject pronouns. The choice of the pronoun series depends on the adjective in question. Some adjectives require the stative series, others require the habitual series, several (e.g. jàlí ‘stupid’) show variation. The choice of series might be related to the semantic distinction of temporary vs. permanent property denoted by the adjective; one could identify this distinction with the individual vs. stage-level classification of predicates by (Carlson 1977). This hypothesis has not been thoroughly tested but some examples are suggestive (individual-level gɛ̄ŋ̄ ‘beautiful’ requires a habitual pronoun, stage-level fɔ̀ŋ̀vɔ̀ŋ̀ ‘shaded’, gblṵ̀ŋ̀ ‘cloudy’, a stative one). If the distinction were driven by a semantic contrast of this kind, this could motivate the neutralization of the distinction under negation – indeed, when absence of a property is asserted, the temporary vs. permanent status of the absent property is irrelevant.

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Référence papier

Denis Paperno, « Personal Pronoun Morphology », Mandenkan, 51 | 2014, 25-30.

Référence électronique

Denis Paperno, « Personal Pronoun Morphology », Mandenkan [En ligne], 51 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2014, consulté le 23 novembre 2017. URL : http://mandenkan.revues.org/558 ; DOI : 10.4000/mandenkan.558

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Auteur

Denis Paperno

University of Trento, Italy
denis.paperno@gmail.com

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