Person Marking

Anna Siewierska

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199281251
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Person Marking

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  • Linguistics
  • Linguistic Typology
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



This article explains the category person, and the status of the third person as a member of this category. It reports the different morphophonological realizations of person markers. The article then describes how the distinction between independent and dependent person forms relates to what is typically considered to be the primary grammatical function of the two types of forms, namely their role as pronouns and as agreement markers. Next, it explores how the different types of person markers are distributed cross-linguistically relative to syntactic function. The issues relating to morphological alignment are evaluated. The differences between the first and second person, on the one hand, and the third, on the other, have led many linguists, most notably Benveniste, to proclaim the third person a non-person. No clear associations between person and alignment comparable to that involving accusative and ergative can be discerned in relation to splits involving other combinations of alignments.

Keywords: category person; morphophonological realizations; person markers; morphological alignment; Benveniste; pronouns; agreement markers

Article.  9751 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Linguistic Typology ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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