Indefinite Pronouns

Front Cover
Clarendon Press, 1997 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 364 pages
This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations.

Most of the world's languages have indefinite pronouns, that is, expressions such as someone, anything, and nowhere. Martin Haspelmath presents the first comprehensive and encyclopaedic investigation of indefinite pronouns in the languages of the world, mapping out the range of variation in their functional and formative properties. He shows that cross-linguistic diversity is severely constrained by a set of implicational universals and by a number of unrestricted universals.

The author treats his subject matter broadly within the Humboldt-Greenberg tradition of language typology, but also considers the contribution of other theoretical approaches to an understanding of the functional and formal properties of indefinite pronouns. The book is organized into four logically ordered steps: selection of a part of grammar-- indefinite pronouns--that can be identified across languages by formal and functional criteria; investigation of the properties of indefinite pronouns in a world-wide sample of forty languages; formulation of generalizations that emerge from the data, summarized in the form of an implicational map; and theoretically informed explanations of the generalizations, which go beyond system-internal statements, appealing to cognitive semantics, functional pressures, and universals of language change (especially grammaticalization).

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 254 - When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 46 And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.
Page 137 - And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Page 254 - Then Peter said, silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
Page 99 - Principle A: An anaphor must be bound in its governing category Principle B: A...
Page 203 - V-NI can be explained by the discrepancy between the semantics, which is that of ordinary sentence negation (or nexus negation, in Jespersen's terms), and the surface expression of negation, which is on a participant rather than on the verb in this...
Page 39 - In such sentences the speaker is committed to the existence and identifiability of the entity.
Page 165 - the conjunction (both ...) and corresponds logically, pragmatically, distributionally, and intonationally to the universal ALL, the disjunction (either ...) or to the existential or particular SOME (...)" (Horn 1989:254). Hence, it can be assumed that for a finite number of entities, a universal statement is equivalent to a conjunction, and an existential statement is equivalent to a disjunction. The problematic examples are generic or law-like statements in which the predicates express a kind of...
Page 202 - In my sample, the Latin type (V-NI) is only represented by European languages, suggesting that it is an areal phenomenon. This idea is confirmed by the distribution within Europe, which is almost confined to a contiguous area from Iceland to the Alps and southern France, within Europe, the 1 0 languages of this type are Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, English, Frisian, German, French, Occitan, and Maltese.
Page 133 - Micromegas" (2. Kapitel). Ein Saturnbewohner erzählt dem Siriusbürger, man habe auf dem Saturn 72 Sinne, und man wünsche sich noch mehr. .Je le crois bien...
Page 188 - An illustrated paper, which is the first to publish portraits of everybody who becomes anybody.

About the author (1997)

Martin Haspelmath is in the Department of Linguistics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Bibliographic information