October 28, 2004

More Borrowed Pronouns

A while back we had some discussion of whether pronouns are unborrowable and can therefore be used as sure indicators of genetic affiliation. Sally Thomason pointed out some examples in which pronoun systems have changed so radically as to make their relationship undetectable through superficial inspection. I pointed out that there are a fair number of documented examples of borrowing of pronouns. Another example has now come to light in Malay. Darul Fahim has posted a discussion of the borrowing of the English pronouns I and you into Malay, which he says is taking place as a way of avoiding the need to make decisions about which of the native Malay pronouns to use based on complex considerations of relative social status.

Posted by Bill Poser at October 28, 2004 11:39 AM