The New International Encyclopædia/Pronoun

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PRONOUN (Lat. pronomen, word standing in place of a noun, from pro, for, before + nomen, name, word, noun). In grammar (q.v.), a word which stands for or instead of a noun (q.v.). While the noun is at first concrete, the pronoun is abstract, and thus represents psychologically a much higher concept than the noun. That it is of later development than the noun seems clear from its composite or suppletive inflection, being made up of a number of stems, still seen, for instance, in I, me, we, us. It had originally no connection with the noun, from which it differed in inflection and in usage. At a later period, however, the nominal and pronominal systems of inflection (q.v.) influenced each other, so that the pronoun shows a number of terminations which properly belong only to the noun, and vice versa. A careful distinction must be observed between pronouns with gender and those without gender. To the former class originally belonged only the pronouns of the first and second persons and the reflexive pronoun of the third person (represented, for instance, by German ich, du, sich). All other pronouns had gender, which was probably natural, not grammatical in character. (See Gender.) These pronouns are demonstrative (as Sanskrit sa, Greek , Latin ille, ‘that,’ later ‘the’), from which the modem pronouns of the third person are derived (compare English he, she, it with Anglo-Saxon , hēo, hit); relative (as Sanskrit ya, Greek ὅς, Latin quis, English who), which are more intimately connected with the interrogatives than the demonstratives; and the interrogatives (as Sanskrit ka, Greek τίς, Latin quis, English who). Of these classes the demonstrative, which is local in force, is probably the oldest. The relative, which introduces the relatively late sentence-form of hypotaxis or subordinate clauses as contrasted with the more primitive parataxis or coördination, seems to be the youngest. Between the two, yet nearer to the demonstrative in point of age, stands the interrogative, which introduces a question. Consult: Zimmern, Vergleichende Grammatik der semitischen Sprachen (Berlin, 1898); Brugmann, Vergleichende Grammatik der indogermanischen Spachen, vol. ii. (Strassburg, 1892).