Benefactive Reflexives

Koontz John E John.Koontz at
Tue Nov 16 17:38:23 UTC 2004

On Tue, 16 Nov 2004 are2 at wrote:
> I'm with Bob.  (But I quit caffeine in the mornings and I'm not sure I
> think all day now.)  Example:
> gigthiza-a! 'Get yourself some!'  'Take some for yourself!'
> gigthizha-a! 'Wash yourself/your own'
> as in NoNbe tHe gigthizha-a! 'Wash your hands!'
> translated in Siouan orthog:
> gigdhiza-a!
> gigdhizha-a!  NaNbe tHe gigdhizha-a!
> Same form, one gets a 'for yourself' reading and one gets a 'yourself'
> reading.

But the form kkigdhize (or Ponca standard or Omaha popular kigthize) also
exists, at least in Ponca.  And the forms ukkine (reflexive) and ugine
(suus) (in Ponca standard and Omaha popular ukine and ugine) also both
exist, and the former occurs with benefactive readings.

I'm puzzled that folks are puzzled by this.  Mind you that doesn't mean
that I feel I could necessarily predict the proper form for a given
context, but it seems clear enough in when produced.

I'm trying to think how to explain this differently.

Morphologically for a transitive stem in Dhegiha there are four

- basic stem with no modifications,
- the reflexive/reciprocal with kki(K)-,
- the suus (reflexive possessive) with gi(K)-, and
- the dative with gi-.

The corresponding argument structures:

- the basic stem is the unmarked situation (subject and direct object),

- the reflexive/reciprocal identifies the subject and object to form a
reflexive, or the subject and beneficiary, to form a benefactive
reflexive, or it may have a reciprocal reading,

- the suus indicates that the object is "possessed" by the subject (which
might in some cases have a fairly benefactive interpretation, I guess),

- the dative focuses the transitivity on a less direct object, which can
be the "possessor" of the direct object, or a beneficiary.

This may be a bit cut and dried, but I think it does for a starting


The suus and dative look similar but have very different paradigms.

The extra morphophoneme |K| at the end of the reflexive and suus is not a
separate category marker, but a conditioned additional part of the basic
marker.  It occurs with syncopating verbs, and in most cases it alternates
with the syncopated inflection of the underlying stem in first and second
persons, e.g., akkippaghe, dhakkis^kaghe, kkikkaghe for the reflexive or
gaghe 'to make'.

Now if anything here is complicated, that pattern of inflection for stop
stems is it.  For want of any better ideas I call what goes on between the
kki and the underlying stem a "secondary pseudo-inflection."  The "pseudo"
refers to the odd way the third person bows out of the picture in favor of
*k.  For most purposes the name is totally unnecessary, of course.  You
have to have two people who are comfortable with the morphological details
of this and have some further issue to discuss before you need a name for
this pattern.  Half the time I can't remember how it works myself and
everyone else seems to shy away in horror.  Various people thinking about
teaching or describing Omaha-Ponca seem to feel this should be left until
the graduate studies phase of things.  However, things like "Look, Mom!
I made myself a sock puppet!" or "Don't get up!  I'll get myself some
coffee."  are pretty basic conversationally.

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