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Person as an inflectional category

Abstract

The category of person has both inflectional and lexical aspects, and the distinction provides a finely graduated grammatical trait, relatively stable in both families and areas, and revealing for both typology and linguistic geography. Inflectional behavior includes reference to speech-Act roles, indexation of arguments, discreteness from other categories such as number or gender, assignment and/or placement in syntax, arrangement in paradigms, and general resemblance to closed-class items. Lexical behavior includes sharing categories and/or forms and/or syntactic behavior with major lexical classes (usually nouns) and generally resembling open-class items. Criteria are given here for typologizing person as more vs. less inflectional, some basic typological correlations are tested, and the worldwide linguistic-geographical distribution is mapped.

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