Honskhardn: Pronouns

I’ve been having a little trouble working out the pronouns for this project.

Pretistelen, the origin language, has three personal pronouns of relevance:

Na, no, ne, né, nu, ni: I/we

Ta, to, te, té, tu, ti: You

Sa, so, se, sé, su, si: He/she/it/they

Each of these inflect for gender and number (a/é = feminine singular/plural, o/u = masculine singular/plural, e/i = neuter singular/plural).

Since monosyllablic words aren’t affected by the final-syllable dropping, these remain more or less unchanged into Hónskhardn.

However, I did adapt the 3rd person pronoun (sa, so, &c) to also function as a definite pronoun, to carry a word’s gender and number when, due to this syllable-dropping, it’s no longer clear on the word itself (kinda like how German uses its pronouns).

(So nid “fish” can become either sae nid “the (one) fish” or si nid “the fishes”, depending on what’s being talked about.)

Pretistelen is supposed to be spoken in a relatively developed society, and it’s become my understanding that developed civilizations tend to start doing weird things with their pronouns, like develop formality levels (see: late Latin, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, various Mesoamerican languages, &c), which generally seems to corrolate with heavily stratified societies.

The easiest way for me to do this was with a pair of suffixes I’d developed for nouns and adjectives: -ól-, the diminutive suffix (nid “fish” > nidól “tiny fish”), and -aed-, the magnificative suffix (nid nidaed “huge fish”).

The general plan has been to create a three-tiered pronominal formality system for all the daughter languages of Pretistelen, applied to first- and second-person pronouns.

The first of these would be the informal/neutral set, which would be the bare pronouns (i.e. na, nota, to, &c), to be used between friends, family, co-workers, and people of similar social standing.

The second of these would be the formal set, modified with the magnificative suffix (naed, taed — note that the gender/number markers are dropped), the first-person used by a superior addressing an inferior, the second-person used by an inferior addressing a superior.

The third of these would be what I’m calling the “differential” set, modified with the diminutive suffix (nól, tól), the first-person used by an inferior addressing a superior, the second-person used by a superior addressing an inferior.

On the other hand, this doesn’t seem to be how formality systems evolve in natural languages? Which honestly kinda puzzles me, cause this system feels pretty logical, but probably a potentially pejorative pronoun wouldn’t really gain traction, save in certain contexts (such as between enemies).

Alternatively, with Hónskhardn at least, I’ve considered going a more European route, with the common-gender (that is, the feminine and masculine) plurals becoming numberless formal pronouns, and the neuter gender plural becoming the standard plural pronoun. (NOTE: the Neuter in Hónskhardn works differently than in English, as it’s not supposed to carry connotations of inanimacy; it’s more of an epicene.)



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