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George’s father has pragmatics issues, but anyway … pronouns!  (Almost) every language is going to have pronouns of some sort.  We talk all kinds — closed-class, open-class, free, clitic, and even having pronouns for bizarrely specific people.  Also, we review Baranxe’i

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Featured Conlang: Baranxe’i


Okuno Zankoku (Comment on #17: Aspect)

Doesn’t Latin separate tense and aspect? I mean, that was the way I thought about it, but it’s not like I actually managed to speak with an L1 speaker of Latin, so take this for what it’s worth.

You had to stretch it a little, but once I treated perfect as being a sort-of present tense and pluperfect as a past perfective, tense and aspect look perfectly distinct. I mean, obviously it’s not perfect separation, and it gets far weirder outside of indicative and subjunctive, but is there anything that’s perfect in language? Latin at least comes as close to perfectly separated as anyone would like (any real people anyway…).

Oh, wait a minute, what am I thinking? Japanese has an even better separation:

Non-Past Perfect: kuru

Past Perfect: kita

Non-Past Imperfect: kite iru

Past Imperfect: kite ita

Hmm, although wiki is making me doubt, but this is the way it was taught in my class (plus or minus technical terms), so I’m running with it.

4 Responses to “Conlangery #22: Pronouns”

  1. Andrew J Smith

    I would like to say something about the Japanese pronouns, though. I find them to be more of a closed set than, say, Vietnamese, but certainly more open than English. I also feel that they actually have become pronouns over the years, since I think that modern Japanese doesn’t really use them in their more ancient nominal senses.

    However, the main thing is that Japanese pronouns do, indeed, have specific referents: “watashi” can only refer to a first person, and “anata” can only refer to a second person. Further, many of the pronouns also have specific gender references: “atashi” is reserved for a female first person, or for someone who wishes to seem feminine. There are fewer third person pronouns, though, than second person or first person. The first person category has the most pronouns. Using a person’s name, title, or both is a more common practice for the third person, and sometimes the second person. For a relatively concise, yet informative, source, see here. Plus, I’m not sure that Okuno Zankoku was taught well about “-te + iru;” That construction should just represent a resultant state or sometimes a progressive.

    Also, I think that French is more militant than English in requiring pronouns.

  2. Koppa Dasao

    Listening to your podcast in hospital. I’ll be back later, after my blood pressure has dropped by more than what your’s are.


  3. Teal Briner

    I was surprised you didn’t mention obviative and logophoric pronouns because they’re neat stuff! In case anyone wants to read up on them the wikipedia article are here ( and here ( Lingthusiasm also did a podcast on pronouns that heavily featured these in case anyone wants to take a listen (

    I’ve been having a lot of fun listening to your podcasts while I work. I makes my day a bit less dull and I learn a lot, so thank you for all your work!


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