In linguistics, egophoricity refers to a grammatical category that marks one's personal involvement in an event.[1] In languages with this category, an egophoric form is used for expressing information to which the self has "privileged access"[2] as opposed to an allophoric (or non-egophoric) form.[1][3]

Egophoric forms are typically associated with first-person subject declarative sentences and second-person subject interrogative sentences (egophoric distribution).[4]

The concept of egophoricity was originally developed in descriptive studies on Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in the Himalayas such as Newar and Tibetan; however, the category has also been found in languages of Northwestern China, the Andean region, Caucasus, New Guinea, and elsewhere.[5]

Terminology

"Ego-" refers to "self" and "-phor" means "to carry".[6]

The term "egophoric" was coined by French linguist Nicolas Tournadre in his description of Lhasa Tibetan[6][7][8] although his former supervisor Claude Hagège had used "égophore" in a different sense prior to that.[8][9]

Before "egophoricity" came into use in the literature, linguists often referred to the same phenomenon by the term conjunct and disjunct forms.[10][11] The distinction between conjunct/disjunct was first made in Austin Hale's work on Kathmandu Newar.[12][13]

Overview

The egophoric distribution

Usually, the marking of egophoricity is correlated with grammatical person and sentence types: egophoric forms typically occur with the first-person subject in declarative sentences and the second-person subject in questions. By contrast, non-egoohoric forms will appear in the other contexts. This pattern is called egophoric distribution.[4][14][15]

Typical distribution of (non-)egophoric markers.
Declarative Interrogative
1st person ego non-ego
2nd person non-ego ego
3rd person non-ego non-ego

Unlike person agreement, however, the use of (non-)egophoric forms may not follow it under certain semantic or pragmatic situations.

The case of Kathmandu Newar

Kathmandu Newar, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the capital of Nepal, has two past tense makers for verbs: the egophoric and the non-egophoric -a. The former is normally used in first-person declaratives and second-person questions whereas the latter is applied to the other sentences:[16][17]

EGO:egophoric

Ji

1.SG.ABS

ana

there

wanā.

go.PST.EGO

Ji ana wanā.

1.SG.ABS there go.PST.EGO

"I went there."

Cha

2.SG.ABS

ana

there

wana.

go.PST.NEGO

Cha ana wana.

2.SG.ABS there go.PST.NEGO

"You went there."

Wa

3.SG.ABS

ana

there

wana.

go.PST.NEGO

Wa ana wana.

3.SG.ABS there go.PST.NEGO

"He went there."

Cha

2.SG.ABS

ana

there

wanā

go.PST.EGO

lā?

Q

Cha ana wanā lā?

2.SG.ABS there go.PST.EGO Q

"Did you go there?"

If the verb describes an unintentional action, however, the non-egophoric past tense marker will appear in first-person declaratives and second-person questions as well:[18]

Jįį

1.SG.ERG

meat

palā.

cut.PST.EGO

Jįį lā palā.

1.SG.ERG meat cut.PST.EGO

"I cut the meat (intentionally)."

Cha

2.SG.ABS

danā

get-up.PST.EGO

lā?

Q

Cha danā lā?

2.SG.ABS get-up.PST.EGO Q

"Did you get up (voluntarily)?"

Jįį

1.SG.ERG

meat

pala.

cut.PST.NEGO

Jįį lā pala.

1.SG.ERG meat cut.PST.NEGO

"I cut the meat (quite by accident)."

Cha

2.SG.ABS

dana

get-up.PST.NEGO

lā?

Q

Cha dana lā?

2.SG.ABS get-up.PST.NEGO Q

"Did you get up (involuntarily)?"

While the third person subject usually takes the non-egophoric marker both in declaratives and interrogatives, the egophoric counterpart will be used in indirect speech if the main and subordinate clauses share the same subject:[19]

Wа̨а̨

3.SG.ERG

wa

3.SG.ABS

ana

there

wanā

go.PST.NEGO

dhakāā

QUOT

dhāla.

say.PST.NEGO

Wа̨а̨ wa ana wanā dhakāā dhāla.

3.SG.ERG 3.SG.ABS there go.PST.NEGO QUOT say.PST.NEGO

"He said that he went there (himself)."

Wа̨а̨

3.SG.ERG

wa

3.SG.ABS

ana

there

wana

go.PST.EGO

dhakāā

QUOT

dhāla.

say.PST.NEGO

Wа̨а̨ wa ana wana dhakāā dhāla.

3.SG.ERG 3.SG.ABS there go.PST.EGO QUOT say.PST.NEGO

"He said that he (someone else) went there."

The case of Lhasa Tibetan

Lhasa Tibetan, another Tibeto-Burman language, has a system of verb endings that express evidentiality and/or egophoricity.[20]

Egophoric Factual
(non-egophoric)
Evidential
Direct Inferential
Perfective -pa yin -pa red -song -zhag
Perfect -yod -yog red -‘dug
Imperfective -gi yod -gi yog red -gi ’dug / -gis
Future -gi yin -gi red

In a nominal construction, the egophoric copulae (e.g. yin) and the non-egophoric ones (e.g. red) are used in accordance with the egophoric distribution:[10][21]

nga

1.SG

bod=pa

Tibetan

yin

COP.EGO

nga bod=pa yin

1.SG Tibetan COP.EGO

"I am Tibetan."

kho

3.SG

bod=pa

Tibetan

red

COP.NEGO

kho bod=pa red

3.SG Tibetan COP.NEGO

"He is Tibetan."

khyed=rang

2.SG.HON

bod=pa

Tibetan

yin

COP.EGO

pas

Q

khyed=rang bod=pa yin pas

2.SG.HON Tibetan COP.EGO Q

"Are you Tibetan?"

nga

1.SG

rgya=mi

Chinese

red

COP.NEGO

pas

Q

nga rgya=mi red pas

1.SG Chinese COP.NEGO Q

"Am I Chinese?"

However, the distinction between yin and red may also be made according to voluntariness of an action as in Kathmandu Newar.[22][23] Likewise, the third-person subject in indirect speech is marked by an egophoric marker if it is co-referential with the subject of the main clause.[23][24]

Also, the third-person subject takes an egophoric marker when the speaker emphasizes their personal involvement in the information conveyed in the statement.

[25]

kho

3.SG

nga’i

1.SG.GEN

bu

son

red

COP.NEGO

kho nga’i bu red

3.SG 1.SG.GEN son COP.NEGO

"He is my son." (e.g. answering "who is he?")

kho

3.SG

nga’i

1.SG.GEN

bu

son

yin

COP.EGO

kho nga’i bu yin

3.SG 1.SG.GEN son COP.EGO

"He is my son." (e.g. answering "whose son is he?")

Interaction with other categories

Evidentiality

In a language like Lhasa Tibetan, egophoricity is part of its evidential system as the egophoric copula occupies the same slot as the allophoric and the evidential. This is not the case for languages such as Kathmandu Newar, where the two categories are expressed separately.[26]

Mirativity

Languages like Akha have paradigmatic structure of mirative and egophoric marking, which suggests both categories can interact with each other.[27]

Person

Few languages deploy grammatical person and egophoric marking at the same time.[28] Still, cohabitation of both categories is reported in Japhug, a Rgyalrongic language of Sichuan.[29]

Geographical Distribution

Himalayas and Western China

Aside from Newar and Tibetic, egophoricity is attested in Tibeto-Burman languages like Galo (Tani), Japhug (Rgyalrongic), Bunan, Kurtöp (East Bodish), and Yongning Na (Naic) as well.[30] Akha (Loloish) has developed egophoric marking independently of the other branches of the family.[31][32]

Outside of Tibeto-Burman, some languages spoken in Northwestern China such as Salar (Turkic), Mongour (Mongolic) and Wutun developed egophoricity due to contact with Amdo Tibetan.[30][33]

See also: Qinghai–Gansu sprachbund

Other areas

Northern Akhvakh (Northeast Caucasian) marks egophoricity to some extent.[34] In South America, Barbacoan languages such as Awa Pit and Cha’palaa exhibit an egophoric system similar to that of Tibeto-Burman.[35]

Tournadre and LaPolla (2014) compare the Japanese desiderative suffix -tai to an egophoric marker in languages like Tibetan, as they follow the egophoric distribution.[36] In Japanese, -tai as well as adjectives describing one's inner experience (such as "glad", "itchy") cannot be used for the third-person without the support of the suffix -garu or some evidential markers.[37]

*Kare

he

wa

TOP

ureshii.

glad

*Kare wa ureshii.

he TOP glad

"He is glad."

Kare

he

wa

TOP

ureshi-garu.

glad

Kare wa ureshi-garu.

he TOP glad

"He is glad."

Kare

he

wa

TOP

ureshi-souda.

glad

Kare wa ureshi-souda.

he TOP glad

"He looks glad."

See also

References

Bibliography

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