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How Society Shapes Language: Personal Pronouns in the Greater Burma Zone


Müller, André; Weymuth, Rachel (2017). How Society Shapes Language: Personal Pronouns in the Greater Burma Zone. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 71(1):409-432.

Abstract

In the “Greater Burma Zone”, an area that includes Myanmar and adjacent regions of the neighboring countries, there are two different systems of personal pronouns that occur predominantly: a grammatical one and one that we call “hierarchical system”. The aim of this paper is to explain the two systems and their development. A sample of 42 languages shows that smaller language communities have grammatical systems and the most dominant languages today have hierarchical ones. Besides these two groups, there are also some languages with a “mixed system”, which means the grammatical system is retained and only a few honorific terms are added as pronouns. An important question will therefore be why the systems are distributed just in this way. Several factors seem to play a role, among them sociocultural structures, historical developments and language contact.

Abstract

In the “Greater Burma Zone”, an area that includes Myanmar and adjacent regions of the neighboring countries, there are two different systems of personal pronouns that occur predominantly: a grammatical one and one that we call “hierarchical system”. The aim of this paper is to explain the two systems and their development. A sample of 42 languages shows that smaller language communities have grammatical systems and the most dominant languages today have hierarchical ones. Besides these two groups, there are also some languages with a “mixed system”, which means the grammatical system is retained and only a few honorific terms are added as pronouns. An important question will therefore be why the systems are distributed just in this way. Several factors seem to play a role, among them sociocultural structures, historical developments and language contact.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Comparative Linguistics
Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 71 (2017) > 1
Dewey Decimal Classification:410 Linguistics
490 Other languages
890 Other literatures
950 History of Asia
Language:English
Date:14 March 2017
Deposited On:25 Oct 2017 12:58
Last Modified:18 Apr 2018 11:49
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:0004-4717
Funders:Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung
Additional Information:Dataset uploaded at Zenodo: https://zenodo.org/record/582206#.WfBioIZx3OQ (DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.582206)
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/asia-2016-0021
Official URL:https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/asia.2017.71.issue-1/asia-2016-0021/asia-2016-0021.pdf
Related URLs:https://zenodo.org/record/582206#.WfBioIZx3OQ

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