How Society Shapes Language: Personal Pronouns in the Greater Burma Zone

André Müller, Rachel Weymuth
2017 Asiatische Studien - Études Asiatiques  
AbstractIn the "Greater Burma Zone", an area that includes Myanmar and adjacent regions of the neighboring countries, there are two different systems of personal pronouns that occur predominantly: a grammatical one and one that we call "hierarchical system". The aim of this paper is to explain the two systems and their development. A sample of 42 languages shows that smaller language communities have grammatical systems and the most dominant languages today have hierarchical ones. Besides these
more » ... ones. Besides these two groups, there are also some languages with a "mixed system", which means the grammatical system is retained and only a few honorific terms are added as pronouns. An important question will therefore be why the systems are distributed just in this way. Several factors seem to play a role, among them sociocultural structures, historical developments and language contact.
doi:10.1515/asia-2016-0021 fatcat:usl324xc7bginmlespvlhz2zhe