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Pronominal morphology & Personal pronouns Posted by on Apr 9, 2012 in Latin Language

What are pronouns?

Traditionally pronouns are defined as words that are used in place of the name. However, this definition is unsatisfactory, in a phrases like:

I will go to the movies tomorrow

What name replaces “I“? It is obvious that it does no replace any name. ‘I‘ is a first-person morpheme that indicates the issuer of the statement.

In addition, there are other kind of words that can replace the name, as the adjective used as a noun. If we want a tighter definition of pronoun, we can say that they are the words that have one or more of the following functions:

Morpheme function: the pronouns can express grammatical ideas that are expressed by morphemes. Is the primary function of personal pronouns: ego, tu… express the grammatical idea of first and second person singular, respectively, which is exactly what make the personal endings -m, -s.

Deictic function: pronouns can point to objects in space. Is the main function of demonstratives (hic, iste, ille).

Phoric function: pronouns can point grammatical units within the text. In Latin we have a phoric pronoun itself (is, ea, id), but other pronouns also have this function (for example, the reflexive, which always refers to the subject of the sentence).

Emphatic function: it is the value of certain pleonastic pronouns, its ability to emphasize meanings already known. Latin has a pronoun almost exclusively emphatic (ipse, ipsa, ipsum) but also other pronouns may do this function.

As mentioned, these functions may appear simultaneously in each type of pronoun, and is what allows us to speak with certainty of such words.

 

Personal pronouns

Number

Case

1st person

2nd person

Reflexive

Singular

Nom.

ego

tu

 

Accus.

me

te

se

Genit.

mei

tui

sui

Dat.

mihi

tibi

sibi

Ablat.

me,
mecum

te,
tecum

se,
secum

Number

Case

1st person

2nd person

Reflexive

Plural

Nom.

nos

uos

 

Accus.

nos

uos

se

Genit.

nostri,
nostrum

uestri,
uestrum

sui

Dat.

nobis

uobis

sibi

Ablat.

nobis,
nobiscum

uobis,
uobiscum

se,
secum

 

Its basic function is morphemic function: they mark the category of person. But they also have an emphatic function, because the person is already indicated by morphemes, this function is sometimes emphasized by the addition of particles to pronouns (temet, egomet …), or by reduplication (tete, meme, sese), or even the appearance of the emphatic pronoun next to the personal pronoun (mihi ipsi).

Only the pronouns of 1st and 2nd person are strictly personal. For creating third person personal pronouns Latin uses the phoric (is) or demonstrative pronouns (hic, iste, ille -we will explain them later-).

Genitive plural forms of nostrum and vestrum are used with partitive meaning (eg: nemo vestrum = none of you), while nostri and vestri forms are used without this meaning.

When the cum preposition accompanies these pronouns is postponed, along with the pronominal form itself.

 

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