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On Thursday, September 30, 2004, at 03:30 , Mark J. Reed wrote:

> On Wed, Sep 29, 2004 at 09:12:42PM -0400, Etak wrote:
>> Hello!
>>    Tarnese, my conlang, has no gender at all, which seems
>> to work quite well at first glance.  I've just realized
>> though, that there is no distinction between whether
>> something written, or said, in the third person refers to a
>> man or a woman.
>
> Great!  Why should there be such a distinction?

Quite so - AFAIK most languages outside of the IE and Semitic groups don't
bother.

>> Could you please give me some suggestions as to how I might fix this
>> problem?
>
> I don't see it as a problem at all.

As mark says - What problem?

> Such a distinction only serves a practical purpose when, for example, a
> man is talking to a woman and you wish to indicate which of the pair is
> speaking; but even languages with gender-specific pronouns, like
> English, still have that problem when two men or two women are speaking.

And English, and many other languages, have a problem when we mean either
male or female. The tradition in the past has generally been to use the
masculine forms "If everybody did his duty...."; but there has been a
drift in English from at least the 19th cent. to use 'they' with a
singular, epicene meaning "if everybody does their duty...." - but this is
still frowned upon by pedants (and is occasionally the source of YAEDT
thread on Conlang :)

No, having sex distinction in 3rd person pronoun IMO creates as many
(possibly more) problems than it solves.

> Klingon has no gender distinctions either.  Among natlangs, I'm given to
> understand that the Mandarin 3rd-person singular pronoun used to be
> genderless, but modern Mandarin (under Western influence, I presume) has
> introduced a specifically-female version while continuing to use the
> genderless to refer to males - which seems a step backwards
> sexual-equity-wise, IMHO.

I agree - but as John has pointed out, this applies to the written
language only. In speech it is _ta1_ for both,
>
>> P.S.  My Latin-English dictionary has a grammar overveiw in
>> the back of it, and I noticed yesterday that there are no
>> third-person nominative personal pronouns.  Why is this?
>
> Because Classical Latin had no third-person nominative personal
> pronouns. :)

It did - but only the reflexive pronoun _se:_ which, of course, cannot by
definition have a nominative form.

> The demonstratives served the purpose; you said
> "this one" or "that one" instead of "he" or "she".
> Of course, Latin has nominal gender, and the demonstratives agree in
> number with
> the demonstratee, so Latin actually has more ways to disambiguate among
> multiple nouns than most languages

Yep - it did indeed.

> (three different demonstratives, each
> of which can take any of the three different genders).

Four at least: is, hic, iste & ille. Also _ipse_ could serve that purpose
and the relative pronoun was often used to mean "...and he"/ "...and her"/
"...and them" etc. etc. AS you say, more ways to disambiguate than most
langs  :)
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On Thursday, September 30, 2004, at 02:37 , David Peterson wrote:
[snip]

> I believe that Latin had no third person pronoun.  Am I right
> on this? 

Only the reflexive pronoun _se_.

> And the third person pronouns of the various Romance
> languages were derived from the words for "this" and "that"...?

Yes - mostly from _ille_ - but a few, like Italian _eso_ are from _ipse_.

> A language can do without a third person pronoun.

Indeed it can.

Ray
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Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
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