Politeness Distinctions in Pronouns

by Johannes Helmbrecht http://wals.info/feature/45

13 Responses to “Politeness Distinctions in Pronouns”

  1. Kosta, Peter Says:

    You treat Polish as a language with a binary politeness distinctions of the common European type (German DU – SIE). Why not implement that (1)
    in Polish the honorific forms are not expressed by a personal pronouns but periphrastically by a nominal category PAN (literally Mr./Sg.), PANI (litteraly Mrs./Sg.) and PANOWIE (P. only men) or PANIE (Pl. only women) and PANSTWO (men and women)?

  2. Martin Haspelmath Says:

    In this WALS feature, the question is only whether a language has a politeness distinction and if so, how many different levels. The type of honorific expression is not considered here. This would be an interesting topic for another feature, of course, but it should be kept in mind that the “noun” status of pan/pani etc. is problematic. They behave as nouns inflectionally and obviously derive from nouns diachronically, but syntactically they seem to behave much more like pronouns (i.e. not unlike German Sie, French vous, etc.).

  3. Peter Kosta Says:

    Dear Martin,

    thank you very much for your comments and yes: this is true: The Noun Phrases PAN, PANI… are of nominal origin but behave now in certain contexts like pronouns (just like German Sie – du or
    French Vous – tu, toi. BUT: if you take certain titles like Pane profesorze “Mr. Professor” in Vocative vs. …. jak Pan profesor mysli in Nominative Sg. “how Professor (honorific)
    thinks”) — things become syntactically tricky and more complex: I can refer you to an article and a
    book by £aziñski, Marek (2006), “O panach i paniach. Polskie rzeczowniki tytularne i ich asymetria rodzajowo-p³ciowa”, Warszawa. Wydawnictwo naukowe PWN. There you will find that the problem is not as easy as it seems to be…

    I shall be glad if I may contribute to the dictionary.

    Best wishes,
    Peter

  4. Celso Alvarez-Cáccamo Says:

    I have a similar observation as Peter Kosta’s regarding the treatment of pronouns versus noun phrases in politeness in Portuguese. If the type of politeness (not necessarily “honorific”) expression “is not considered here”, then European Portuguese should have the Multiple Politeness Distinctions value: “Tu / Você / O senhor, A senhora”. The usage of “O senhor / A senhora” is more extended than anecdotal (as it may be in Spanish) — it is systematic for the features of -solidarity, +power (indicating that the speaker is in a subordinate position). In Galizan Portuguese the system is binary (T / V, where both T and V have variants), with occasional use of “O senhor”. On its part, in Brazilian Portuguese the distinction is indeed binary: “Você / O senhor” (Azevedo, Milton M. 1981. Sobre o emprego de você no português brasileiro atual. Hispania, vol. 64, n. 2, pp. 273-278). Also, the deictic-avoidance strategy is common.

  5. titguantyBink Says:

    KztwXORT xuniCLEgy kgfddlvxlj OAQzVjped wcljug SvlLQOQHucf IbmwETKR xcxnQUQyd FwbyIXXI bxkrHAGue

  6. Unsurfhus Says:

    YymxSZOF nsmeFUQxb ftpcqxklzh UMNdRkucr jujrdy BoiSMLCXpun FwzoOZZD tkgsEMUie YhdqQKUO yhloSFSjl

  7. Wibousequiree Says:

    WhkjXEVT dtkxPLDjw qvwfuociio EPRxPtocq zwcoio SscPEZZInqg OdvdYCFY vsjdXICug YxmrOTUM hjdaFVNkd

  8. Mark A. Mandel Says:

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  9. Delvecchio Simone Says:

    Why is considered with “no politeness distinction” but when referring to an important person (a king, a queen, a pontiff, …) is used the third-person singular or plural pronoun with second-person singular polite meaning (respectively “His majesty the king”, “Her majesty the queen”, “His holiness the pope”, …, instead of “your majesty the king”, “your majesty the queen”, “your holiness the pope”, …)?

  10. Delvecchio Simone Says:

    *English

  11. Pietro Martini Says:

    To answer Simone Delvecchio and Celso Alvarez-Cáccamo: the chapter is concerned only with politeness distinction in 2nd person of personal pronouns. I would say that uses such as “O senhor” or “your majesty” or even “his majesty” are nominal expressions that indirectly refer to a 2nd person, not pronouns. (Those expression can evolve into full pronouns, such as você < vossa mercê, or Spanish usted < vuestra merced "your mercy")

  12. Delvecchio Simone Says:

    To reply to Martini Pietro: I know the chapter is about politness distinction in 2-nd person of personal pronouns, it cannot be otherwise (politness in other person pronouns does not exist), if thou had read carefully the question in my first comment, thou would have understood that I understood.
    As far as I know, in English language when referring to an important person (a king, a queen, a pontiff, …) is used the third-person singular or plural pronoun with second-person singular polite meaning (respectively “His majesty the king”, “Her majesty the queen”, “His holiness the pope”, …, instead of “your majesty the king”, “your majesty the queen”, “your holiness the pope”, …), this is in contrast to what is mapped.
    I have always heard greeting people beyond a certain social status by using the third person singular or plural instead of the second person singular in English speeches.

  13. Delvecchio Simone Says:

    To comment to chapters 41 to 44 (I cannot comment on them):
    In chapter 41 for feature 41A, the Italian language is mapped as having a “two-way contrast”, however, the Italian language, contrasts between “questo” (proximal), “codesto” (medial, also used for near hearer in some dialects and contexts), and “quello” (distal), so the Italian language for feature 41A have to be mapped as having a “three-way contrast”.
    In chapter 42 for feature 42A, the French language is mapped as having “different stem” for pronominal and adnominal demonstratives, however, in example (2) is shown French language contrasting adnominal demonstratives “ce” and “cette”, and pronominal demonstrative “celui” and “celle” which evidently share the stem “ce-” and change only the suffix, so the French language have to be mapped as having “different inflection”, not “different stem”.
    In chapter 43 for feature 43A, the Italian language (currently not mapped) may be mapped with value “unrelated”.
    In chapter 44 for feature 44A, the Italian language is mapped as having gender distinction in “3rd person singular only”, however, the Italian language, has gender distinction also in the 3-rd person plural (gender distinction in the 3-rd person plural is optional, not absent) with the following gender distinction:
    3-rd person personal pronoun form “essi” is dominantly used for:
    masculine+masculine=masculine;
    3-rd person personal pronoun form “esse” is dominantly used for:
    feminine+feminine=feminine;
    3-rd person personal pronoun form “loro” (originally the masculine and neuter genitive “elloro” contrasted against feminine genitive “ellaro”) is currently used primarly for:
    masculine+feminine=common,
    unknown+unknown=unknown,
    masculine+unknown=unknown,
    feminine+unknown=unknown;
    for “essi” is used also non-dominantly for common and unknown, while “loro” is used also non-dominantly for masculine and feminine, and “esse” has no non-dominant usages;
    so the Italian language for feature 44A have to be mapped with gender distinction in “3rd person only, but also non-singular”.

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