Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote in torn_world,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
torn_world

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Torn Tongue: Impersonal Pronouns

Last week we covered pronouns for people.  This week we're going to start exploring pronouns for other things.


Impersonal Pronouns for Other Things

Impersonal pronouns primarily refer to everything but people; they replace nouns for places, things, ideas, or animals.  Using them to refer to people is insulting.*  Impersonal pronouns are essentially all third-person words and they do not encode gender or number.  However, they do  encode class, using the same classes as nouns.  If the appropriate class is unknown for some reason, the Abstract/Miscellaneous class is typically used. Remember that the genitive serves as the possessive (think "of mine" as well as "my").

* An exception to this rule is that some people (particularly Glifai) registered as "no gender" do prefer impersonal pronouns.  All three noun classes are in use; these have different connotations, although a given individual may pick something other than the obvious for a quirky personal reason.  The most common connotations are as follows.  Natural/Living: "I am alive, but I am neither male nor female, so I'm using something other than personal pronouns to signify my nonstandard physiology."  Technological/Concrete: "I am neither male nor female, but I am a material being.  Some part of my body/identity is constructed rather than natural."  Abstract/Miscellaneous: "I am not my body, and my body is not a usual sort of body.  This is a reminder that attempts at categorization are futile."  (Conversely, a genderless individual using personal pronouns is asserting their humanity over their sex/gender, or else doesn't care and is simply using the standard terms.)  So a character's choice of pronouns can convey important information!

Noun Class ..... Nominative ..... Dir Objective ..... Ind Objective ..... Genitive
Natural ............ al ..................... la ....................... laa ..................... lai
Technological ... im .................... mi ...................... mii ..................... mei
Abstract ........... ur .................... ru ....................... ruu ..................... roi

Notice that each of the personal and impersonal pronouns has a certain consonant associated with it, as indicated by the first letter of the words in the Direct Object form.  Because verbs start with a vowel, it is possible to tack that single pronomial consonant onto the front of the verb to make a one-word sentence  complete with subject and predicate.  That offers a concise alternative to the full “pronoun plus verb” combination of a standard sentence.

These are the relevant letters for personal pronouns:

Person .......... Letter
1st P Sing ...... k
1st P Plural ..... f
2nd P Sing ...... t
2nd P Plural .... j
3rd P Sing ...... d
3rd P Plural .... y

These are the relevant letters for impersonal pronouns:

Noun Class ..... Letter
Natural ............. l
Technological ... m
Abstract ........... r


Here are some new verbs for practice:

English .......... Torn Tongue
to educate ....... eri
to end ............. agi
to err .............. ufa
to exchange .... uro
to exist ........... ara
to expand ........ aruur
to experience ... ireruu

The following examples demonstrate the use of impersonal pronouns, first as separate words and then as prefixes on verbs.

English .................... Torn Tongue
it (nat) errs ................ al ufa
it (tech) expands  ....... im aruur
it (ab) educates ......... ur eri

English .................... Torn Tongue
it (nat) experiences ... lireruu
it (tech) ends ............ magi
it (ab) exists ............. rara

Tags: linguistics
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