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Impersonal constructions in Mazandarani
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Linguistics and Philology. (Iranian languages)
2010 (English)In: Orientalia Suecana, ISSN 0078-6578, Vol. 59, 182-192 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to investigate impersonal constructions in the Sari and Ziyarat dialects ofMazandarani, a language spoken in the north of Iran. The language data used in this study are oral narratives,stories, and ethnographic texts.Kitagawa (1990), Blevins (2003), and Siewierska (2008) are among those general linguists who havepaid attention to this type of construction in recent years. Siewierska (2008: 3) defines impersonal constructionsas “subjectless constructions, constructions featuring only a pleonastic subject, and constructionswhich lack a specified agent.” This study concentrates on the latter type, specifically on the use of3PL and 2SG constructions to denote a non-specified agent.Sometimes 3PL impersonal constructions are in the past tense, where there is a separation in time fromthe moment of speech, but some examples are in the present tense, which means that there is no time separation.In most examples, the addressee is excluded, but this is mainly due to the situation in which thecorpus was gathered. In some of the examples it is obvious that the speaker wants to create a mental distancebetween him/her and the verb action. The construction is also used when talking about a taboo, perhapsto avoid the embarrassment of having to identify with the verbal action. In other examples, the 3PLconstruction lends more generality, and therefore more importance, to the verbal action. It can also excludeboth the speaker and the addressee from the group of possible agents. The 2SG construction is used bothin a similar way to the 3PL construction to talk about customs in a specific context in the past or present,thus excluding the addressee from the referential framework in this specific context, but probably not inall contexts. But this construction is also used to include both the speaker and the addressee as potentialagents.The general conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that the 3PL construction is less inclusivethan the 2SG. If the speaker wants to mark an exclusive interpretation (-speaker, -addressee) the onlypossible construction is the 3PL, and if the speaker wants to focus on the inclusive interpretation (+speaker,+addressee) the only possible construction is 2SG, but there is also a grey zone where both constructionsare possible.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala, 2010. Vol. 59, 182-192 p.
Keyword [en]
Iranian languages, Mazandarani, Impersonal constructions, agentless constructions
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Iranian Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-149752OAI: diva2:405400
Available from: 2011-03-22 Created: 2011-03-22 Last updated: 2011-03-22Bibliographically approved

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