Allocutive agreement

In linguistics, allocutive agreement (abbreviated AL or ALLOC) refers to a morphological feature in which the gender of an addressee is marked overtly in an utterance using fully grammaticalized markers[1] even if the addressee is not referred to in the utterance.[2] The term was first used by Louis Lucien Bonaparte in 1862.[3]


See also Basque verbs: Familiar forms and allocutive indices (hika).

In Basque, allocutive forms are required in the verb forms of a main clause when the speaker uses the familiar (also called "intimate") pronoun hi "thou" (as opposed to formal zu "you").[1] This is distinct from grammatical gender as it does not involve marking nouns for gender; it is also distinct from gender-specific pronouns, such as English "he/she" or Japanese boku ("I", used by males) and atashi ("I", used by females). In Basque, allocutive agreement involves the grammatical marking of the gender of the addressee in the verb form itself.

Grammatically this is done by introducing an additional additional person marker in the verb form (marked ALL):

Amaia n-a-iz
Amaia ABS.1SG-PRES-be
I am Amaia (speaking formally)


Amaia n-a-u-n
I am Amaia (to a female addressee, speaking informally)
Amaia n-a-u-k
I am Amaia (to a male addressee, speaking informally)

Eastern dialects have expanded on this by adding the polite (formerly plural) pronoun zu to the system; in some, hypocoristic palatalization converts this to -xu:

Level "I'll go" "you'll go"
Polite joanen niz joanen zira
Intermed. joanen nuzu/nuxu joanen xira
Familiar, masc. joanen nuk joanen hiz
Familiar, fem. joanen nun

Some varieties have done away with the unmarked forms except in subordinate clauses: joanen nuk / nun / nuzu vs. joanen nizela 'that I go'


Beja, a Cushitic language, has allocutive forms, marking the gender of a masculine addressee with the clitic =a and with =i for feminine addressees:[2]

He saw me (said to a man)
He saw me (said to a woman)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Trask, L. The History of Basque Routledge: 1997 ISBN 0-415-13116-2
  2. ^ a b Antonov, Anton (2015). "Verbal allocutivity in a crosslinguisticperspective". Linguistic Typology. 19 (1).
  3. ^ Bonaparte, L.-L. Langue basque et langues finnoises (1862) London

External linksEdit