Nyxelestia (nyxelestia) wrote in linguaphiles,

Types of pronouns across languages

Long time lurker de-lurking for the first time in...quite a while.

So, in many (West?) European languages, pronouns are usually broken down to gender (English's he/she for "male/female"). And many Asian language make distinctions based on age/respect (Bengali's apni/tumi/tui for "older and more respected/same age or my peer/someone younger than me").

Are there any other languages that make some other kinds of distinctions? i.e. do they make distinctions for something like, say, hair color or height or coming from another area or anything besides age and sex?

And how/why did any of these pronouns come about?

I'm working on a conlang which technically only has one set of pronouns (kind of a universal "it" for humans), but in the history of this language, it was often attached to other descriptors so you can make "he" pronoun with a "male-[it]" structure, but with all sorts of characteristics (age, sex, physical attributes, race, education level, ect - the setting of this conlang is a few centuries into the future). Over time, these structures got truncated into pronouns so the original "male-[it]" structure has effectively become "he", but in a way/system that could be used for a multitude of characteristics. I want to see how this might've worked out in other, real languages before attempting such a thing in my own conlang.

ETA: For clarification, I'm interested in pronouns used to refer to humans. (Or sentient beings in general, for conlangs that might have set-ups for different species or something like that.).
Tags: conlangs, gender, pronouns

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