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On Fri, 26 May 2000 01:52:09 -0400, Muke Tever <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:
<...>
>> Marcus Smith scripsit:
<...>
>> "He took the
>> manuscript out of the briefcase and threw it in the sea".  Threw
>> what, the manuscript or the briefcase?
>> In French, one is masc. and one is fem., and the pronoun disambiguates
>> perfectly.  Of course this doesn't happen every time!
>
>Are there any languages, (natural or homemade) that have a sort of double
>pronoun... ack, I don't know how to say it.
>
>Here:
>"He told him the truth about his mother."
>
>From this in English we can gather that 'he' and 'him' are different
people,
>but out of context we have no idea whether 'his' refers to the 'he' man or
>the 'him' man.  To make it clear in English would want something like:
>
>"He told him the truth about his (John's) mother."
>
>but would it be common (or practical?) for a language to mark _his_ to
match
>the relevant pronoun, like:
>
>"He1 told him2 the truth about him2's mother."

In many languages (including Slavonic and Scandinavian) there is a
reflexive possessive pronoun which always refers to the subject. E. g.
in Russian (morphological info omitted):

On    rasskazal jemu  pravdu    o     jego  materi
'He-1 told      him-2 the truth about his-2 mother.'
vs.
On    rasskazal jemu  pravdu    o     svojej  materi
'He-1 told      him-2 the truth about his-1 mother.'

'his-1' = "himself's", so to say; cf.:

On    rasskazal jemu  pravdu    o     nem   (samom)
'He-1 told      him-2 the truth about him-2 (-self)'
vs.
On    rasskazal jemu  pravdu    o     sebe
'He-1 told      him-2 the truth about himself-1'
(_sebe_ being the reflexive pronoun, 'oneself')

(I suddenly realized while translating that situation in Russian is
still more complex: in _On rasskazal jemu  pravdu o nem_, _o nem_ can
actually be understood 'about him-3'! This is why I felt it was perhaps
necessary to say _o nem samom_ 'about him-2-self'...)

(BTW, In Slavonic languages, unlike e. g. Romance, reflexives can refer
to any person, which also applies to reflexive possesives, cf.:
Ja    rasskazal jemu  pravdu    o     svojej  materi
'I    told      him   the truth about my      mother';
Ja    rasskazal jemu  pravdu    o     sebe
'I    told      him   the truth about myself'.)

Besides, in many languages there are expressions like 'the former' -
'the latter'. European langs often use deixis degrees ('this' - 'that')
in this sense.

And I kinda remember some (African?) languages whose elaborated deixis
degrees, being obligatorily expressed in 3rd person pronouns, were
consequentially used to disambiguate utterings about "his mother".


Basilius