18.4 Pronouns

English Notes
BSL Video


Pronouns are a familiar type of proform to those who know English. A pronoun stands in place of a previously mentioned noun. "Pronoun" literally means "in place of a noun".

Pronouns contain information relating to who is being talked about, and how many of them there are. This information is called “person” and “number”.

Person - refers to who is being talked about. In the ‘first person’, the speakers or signers refer to themselves, or themselves and some others.

Number - tells us how many individuals are involved: one, two of us, three of us, all of us etc. The English number system only has singular and plural, so we only know if there is either one person involved or more than one. The BSL number system is more complex.

Pronouns can only have meaning when the referent can be identified. In the sentence "that’s his book" we need to know who "he" is.

Pronouns in BSL are articulated by pointing to a location associated with the noun. The form of the point is the same in all pronouns, but the location of the point varies depending on the location assigned to the noun. Pointing has many other functions in BSL so we use the term "index" to refer to pronoun pointing.


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