Datapoint Tagalog / The Associative Plural

Discuss WALS Datapoint Tagalog / The Associative Plural.

2 Responses to “Datapoint Tagalog / The Associative Plural”

  1. Scott AnderBois Says:

    I think the Tagalog data here may have been misanalyzed. The examples cited involved plural pronouns juxtaposed with a proper name and end up with a meaning that seems to be interpreted as “Them and Mary”. It’s true that this is not the predominant coordination strategy in the language (see the pages in S&O right after the cited p. 113) and it is possible that there is some sort of unexpected semantics here (though very hard to tell with decontextualized examples), but I don’t see this as an associative or similative plural at all, it just seems to be a coordination of a plural pronoun with a referring expression. In any case, it is clear that these morphemes are plural pronouns elsewhere in Tagalog and so coding them as associative plurals with no additional function is pretty clearly wrong and incompatible with S&O’s cited discussion.

  2. Edith Moravcsik Says:

    Scott AnderBois’ comment says our examples of Tagalog associative plurals involve a plural pronoun juxtaposed with a proper name and he proposes that this is the coordination of the pronoun and the proper name rather than an associate plural construction.

    However, according to the sources that we have, this is not so: what is juxtaposed with a proper name to yield the associative interpretation is not a plural pronoun but a plural marker of personal nouns. These personal-noun plural markers are sina, nina, and kina (three case forms), while the plural third person pronoun forms are distinct: sila, nila, and kanila (Schachter and Otanes 1972, 88, 112-113). Since the constructions do not contain two noun phrases (a pronoun and a noun), it cannot be interpreted as coordination.

    We cited two sources for the Tagalog associative plural. Both of them are explicit about a personal-noun plural marker directly followed by a proper name yielding an associative plural meaning.

    One source is Schachter and Otanes (1972: 113). Here is the relevant passage.

    “A phrase consisting of a plural marker and personal noun means: the person named by the noun and another or others associated with that person. Thus, sina Maria has the general meaning ‘Maria and (the) others’. In specific instances it may mean ‘Maria and her friend(s)’, ‘Maria and her companion(s)”, ‘Maria and her relative(s)’, etc. Some examples of pluralized person-noun phrases are:

    Masasaya na sina Maria. ‘Maria and the others are happy now.’
    Siya ang Iola nina Boy. ‘She is the grandmother of Boy and the others.’
    Para kina Luis ang handaan. ‘The party is for Luis and the others.’”

    (End of quote.)

    Schachter and Otanes (113) also note that names have two plurals one yielding an additive plural, the other an associative plural. For example, ang nga Santos means ‘the Santoses’, while sina Santos means ‘Santos and others (who may or may not also be named Santos)’.

    Our other source was Agnes Kolmer’s paper of 1998. She cites an example from L. Bloomfield’s Tagalog texts with grammatical analysis (1917) with the translation given in German. The gloss PNM presumably stands for ‘personal name’.

    sina Hwàn, sina Andrès, at sina ariyáno
    ‘Juan, Andres, und Mariano, jeder mit seiner Gruppe’
    (‘Juan, Andres, and Marian, each with his/her group’)

    In the light of these data and analyses, we see no reason to modify our claim that Tagalog has an associative plural construction. We are sorry that in our original description we did not make clear the grammatical nature of the item that, followed by a name, yields the associative plural reading. We would welcome any additional information on the matter including from Scott’s personal knowledge of the language if possible.

    Michael Daniel and Edith Moravcsik

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