>Question: Is it reasonable to have a language whose verbs inflect for
>number and animacy, but NOT for person?  In my current incarnation of
>Eastern, verbs inflect for voice, mood (both as prefixes) and for
>singular-animate, singular-inanimate, dual-animate, dual-inanimate,
>plural-animate, and plural-inanimate.

I think it's reasonable.  Consider past tense verbs in Slavic (Russian,
for example), which inflect for gender and number, but not person.
The historical reason, I believe, is that these past tense forms were
originally participles, and retained their adjective-like agreement
system even after they were reanalysed as verbs.  (Present tense
verbs, which have been verbs all along, have the more normal agreement
pattern: person and number, but not gender.)

Also, I seem to remember that there are some Amerindian languages
in which verbs are inflected for number and animacy by altering the
shape of the stem, and inflected for person by adding affixes.  Perhaps
Eastern is like this, except that the person affixes have dropped off...


Matt Pearson
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UCLA Linguistics Department
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Los Angeles, CA 90095-1543