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Argument indexing: A conceptual framework for the syntactic status of bound person forms

Haspelmath, Martin

Bound person forms have been prominent in Anna Siewierska’s writings. In thisarticle, I propose a conceptual framework for thinking and talking about boundperson forms in a non-Eurocentric way, based on a number of Anna’s insights. Inwell-known European languages such as German, English, Russian and French,bound person forms have generally been regarded as agreement markers, and freeperson forms as pronouns. But person forms which optionally cooccur with a coreferential nominal (conominal) do not fit comfortably into either of thesecategories. I argue that bound person forms should be regarded as phenomena suigeneris (called “argument indexes”) rather than squeezed into the Europeanmould. We need to distinguish between gramm-indexes (with obligatory conominal), cross-indexes (with optional conominal) and pro-indexes (noconominal possible), of which the cross-indexes are the most common.

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