The referential ambiguity of personal pronouns and its pragmatic consequences
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


This paper deals with the use of personal pronouns (PPs) in Ancient Greek in two Aristophanes’ comedies (i.e. and ). The main purpose of this study is to show that Ancient Greek PPs often have a pragmatic function, in particular linked to the speaker’s communicative goals. The analysis highlights the presence of a gender-related distribution and a context-dependent use of personal pronouns. In particular, male characters prefer 1st person singular pronouns, whereas female characters use more 1st person plural pronouns with an inclusive value. Moreover, in two communicative frameworks it is possible to notice how PPs are used for their value of membership categorization. In this respect PPs can be considered possible markers of or (see Bravo 1999). Some peculiar instances of referential ambiguities concern in particular the use of 1st and 2nd person plural pronouns in both comedies.The analysis shows that use of Ancient Greek PPs varies according to gender and context. Moreover, it is clear that in both comedies this variation should be explained mainly as a pragmatic strategy of membership categorization, thus showing instances of non-prototypical uses of PPs similar to other languages (e.g. Spanish, English, Modern Greek).


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