Abstract

Data from dual pronoun systems in Australian languages is used to show the pragmatic basis for a cycle of pronoun creation—reduced pronouns from free forms and free from reduced—and the motivation to maintain both types in a linguistic system. Free pronouns become positionally restricted reduced forms by association of clause-initial position with discourse prominence (Swartz 1988, Choi 1999). The same pragmatic motivations result in the creation of new free pronouns, and the divergence of free and reduced pronouns with respect to ergative case marking. Examples of languages at different stages of the cycle include Garrwa (one set of free pronouns, with a strong preference for second position); Djambarrpuyngu and Gupapuyngu (two sets of pronouns transparently related in form and in complementary distribution); Ritharrngu, Djinang, and Djinba (two sets of pronouns transparently related in form but in which the reduced pronouns are becoming obligatory); Warlpiri (two sets of pronouns, which diverge in form, and the reduced set is obligatory); and Warumungu (one set of reduced pronouns, indicating how new free pronouns might emerge based on information-packaging principles). The creation of free pronouns from reduced pronouns argues against strict unidirectionality of change.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 566-596
Launched on MUSE
2008-10-04
Open Access
No
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