A corpus-based study of the human impersonal pronoun ('n) mens in Afrikaans
Compared to men and een mens in Dutch
This article compares the grammaticalizing human impersonal pronoun ('n) mens in Afrikaans to fully grammaticalized men and non-grammaticalized een mens in Dutch. It is shown that 'n mens and een mens can still be used lexically, unlike mens and men, and that ('n) mens and een mens are restricted to non-referential indefinite, universal-internal uses while men exhibits the whole range of (non-) referential indefinite ones. Despite the latter’s presence in the earliest Afrikaans data, it is argued not to have influenced the development of ('n) mens. This pronoun and Dutch een mens are also found to have syntactic functions other than subjecthood, unlike men. The contrast is attributed to their different degrees of grammaticalization. Lastly, the Afrikaans ‘man’-pronoun is shown to differ from its Dutch counterparts in relying on the second person singular for suppletion, though forms of ('n) mens are found to occasionally occur instead.
Keywords: grammaticalization, impersonal, pronoun, Afrikaans/Dutch
Published online: 05 June 2018
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Cited by 1 other publications
Van Olmen, Daniël & Adri Breed
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