The pragmatics of first person non-singular pronouns in Norf’k

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The Norf’k language of the descendants of the Mutiny of the Bounty has developed a complex inventory of pronouns and similarly complex rules for their use. The large size of the pronoun paradigm reflects both the cumulative nature of Norf’k grammar where constructions from Tahitian, English and St. Kitts Creole continue to co-exist and the specific human ecology in which the language developed. A rare property of first person non-singular pronouns is the distinction of pronouns that are used exclusively by and to refer to Bounty descendants. Another interesting property is the distinction between a large set of deictic pronouns and a much smaller set of anaphoric ones. The discussion draws on a large sample of naturalistic spoken and written texts as well as discussions with informants during 18 field visits. The findings differ from previous analyses and demonstrate the importance of extended participant observation and a rich database.


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