Re: [tied] The English 1ps pronoun "Nerzmee"

From: Glen Gordon
Message: 17188
Date: 2002-12-15

>*eg^(om) [...] was not used automatically as the subject of a first-person
>statement unless there was a reason to highlight the first
>person [...]. It was a "moi, je..." or "(as for) me..." kind of thing,
>almost like a sentence adverbial, [...]

Yes, exactly. Although we could translate *ego: as a phrase "as for me..."
though or "moi, je" or even "watashi ga", these translations overlook the
smaller components of the stem. So I was happy when I found "then there's
me" as a better fit for a pronoun that would seem to translate morpheme
for morpheme as "there-then-I".

>[...] and this is certainly the reason why the was suppletive with
>regard to the rest of the paradigm.

I couldn't have been the peculiar emphatic-topical usage of IE pronouns
alone that caused the adoption of a completely different stem for the
1ps nominative than for the other cases. Afterall, we don't find such
bold alternation in 2ps *tu: & *t(w)e, two stems that must surely have
the same origin in the distant past. This is not so for *ego: and *me. So
the question I'm trying to answer is why the 1ps was so special that it
adopted *ego: to replace what must have been once **mu:.

In French, we can equally say "moi, je...", "toi, tu..." and
"lui, il...". In English, we can say "then there's me...", "then there's
you" and "then there's him". But strangely, even though the semantics fit,
we don't find **egesi "then there's you" or **egeti "then there's him".

That's why I suggested that *ego: may have been a more respectful, humble
way of referring to oneself, explaining why the *ege- stem is not found
with other endings, since if it were, perhaps it might be viewed as
degrading to others.

Looking at it in a sociomorphological way, *ego: meaning "then there's me"
might have been a grammatically symbolic way of humbling oneself to an
inanimate noun, not worthy enough to be the true subject of a transitive

- gLeN

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