Linguistic reflection of the three subjective functions - person, agent, and beneficiary - in diachrony

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


Vesntik TSU. Philology. 2014

Linguistic reflection of the three subjective functions - person, agent, and beneficiary - in diachrony

About the author:

Michail A. Buryakov,


This article attempts to provide theoretical evidence of Diachrony in the logical and semantic category of person, agent, and beneficiary, derived from the corresponding affective, emotional “judgments” and the “judgment of feeling”, based on analysis of the primary types of predicative syntagms. The use of the comparative historical and cognitive research methods enables us to examine intonation as a predicative syntagm in which the person category of person, found in the “person/non-person” opposition, acts as a subject. This suggests not only the absence of the “non-person” at a given stage of the linguistic development, i.e., of the concept of the object, due to “interconvertibility” (E. Benveniste), “since the one whom I call ‘you’ thinks of himself using the term ‘I’” – but thereby also to give a linguistic explanation of the principle of the co-occurrence of active-typology languages, resulting from the predominance of intonational predicativity. The growth of feeling and weakening of intonation result in substitution of the deixis for the “action” and the “splitting” of the intonational subject into the agent (nomina agentis) and the object (predicative forms ending in *-e as a reflection of the position of the beneficiary). The formation of the Indo-European medium, the verbum abstractum, and the dative subject are viewed as stages of proper reflection of the beneficiary (of the speaker). This refers not only to acquisition by the agent of the beneficiary’s ability to take on various attributes besides the “action attribute” (state, process, quality, quality, etc.), but also by the beneficiary of the agent’s quality (“shades of will”), reflecting psychic activity despite external “non-action”.


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