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Han and hon – Anaphoric pronouns in Early Scandinavia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Scandinavian Languages.
2015 (English)In: New Trends in Nordic and General Linguistics / [ed] Hilpert, Martin; Östman, Jan-Ola; Mertzlufft, Christine; Reissler, Michael; Duke, Janet, Berlin/Munich/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2015, 162-180 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The origin of the Scandinavian anaphoric pronouns han(n) “he” and hon (hun) “she” is a matter of dispute. An early hypothesis which derived the stem *han- from an Indo-European demonstrative kenos, attested in Aeolic Greek, was rejected at the beginning of the 20th century by the Swedish scholar Axel Kock,on the grounds that it was unlikely that this pronoun could have been preserved in Scandinavia but not in Germanic elsewhere. Instead, it would be a Proto-Scandinavian novation, which replaced an earlier common Germanic pronoun. However, the original hypothesis is formally unproblematic, while Kock’s own etymological proposal poses problems. We may also be less inclined today than a hundred years ago to regard Proto-Germanic as a reality in the sense of it being a language with hardly any variation, which makes Kock’s criticism somewhat outdated. Moreover, it is difficult to understand why an already established pronoun would be replaced by a new one. Thus, we should seriously consider the possibility that han/hon actually is an Indo-European heritage, not a novation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin/Munich/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2015. 162-180 p.
, Linguae & Litterae, ISSN 1869-7054 ; 42
Keyword [en]
anaphoric pronouns, etymology, Scandinavian languages
National Category
Research subject
Scandinavian Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-243621ISBN: 978-3-11-034386-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-243621DiVA: diva2:787727
Swedish Research Council, 421-2010-1272
Available from: 2015-02-11 Created: 2015-02-11 Last updated: 2015-02-11

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Stroh-Wollin, Ulla
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