Benefactive Reflexives

Koontz John E John.Koontz at
Tue Nov 16 18:24:42 UTC 2004

On Tue, 16 Nov 2004, Jan Ullrich wrote:
> In Lakhota ic?i'chag^a can mean both "to make oneself (into)" and "to
> make for oneself".  ...

These examples were particularly interesting, because they refer to
reflexives in form, and in each case there is a benefactive and a
non-benefactive reading.  It makes me wonder if with some work I could
discover similar alternate readings for the Omaha-Ponca cases.

> Perhaps somewhat unrelated question:
> I have always wondered why the k in kag^a turns into aspirated ch in
> ic?i'chag^a. It remains plain in ki'cicag^a. The same thing happens with
> kuN'zA 'to decree' -> ic'ichuNzA = I decree for myself (I pledge).
> Deloria comments that "The possessive forms are irregular insofar as they
> aspirate the c" (ibid 102) as in:
> we'cag^a ? I make for him/her (from ki'cag^a)
> we'chag^a ? I make my own (from ki'chag^a)
> So here the difference between c and ch is used as an irregularity to help
> differentiate the meaning, I guess. But why in ic?i'chag^a?

My explanation for the Dakotan k > c^h where c^ only is expected is that
these forms all involve allomorphs of the preceding prefix with a -k
extension (as in the OP examples being discussed), so the allomorph of
ic^?i- here is ic^?ik-.

Dakotan aspirates reflect in large measure Proto-Mississippi Valley
preaspirates, e.g., kheya 'turtle' corresponds to OP kke 'turtle', both
from something like *hke-, and these preaspirates seem to be what arrises
in PMV from unretained sequences stops, to judge from OP inflectional
forms like ppaghe 'I make' < *p-kaghe or kkaN=bdha 'I want' < *p-kaN=p-ra,
or kkikkaghe 'to make for oneself' < *hkik-kaghe, etc.

So, Dakotan forms like kic^hagha (underlying *kikhagha) are presumably
reflexes of *kik-kagha, and simularly with ic^?ic^hagha < *ik?ik-kagha.
Naturally, a certain amount of this might actually result from analogical
treatment of the prefix-stem boundary in paradigms perceived as similar,
rather than from large sets of prefixes having an historical -k extension.

I've looked at the question of the origin of the -k extensions
extensively.  Initially I suspected that they were fossilized remnants of
a original ki- that had been syncopated, rendering it less salient, and
then supplemented - made more salient - by an extra full ki- (or whatever)
in front of it.  Currently I suspect somethung rather different.  I think
that the reflexive morpheme *hkik- is historically an incorporated "be
with"  coverb *hkik-.  Fairly solid traces of it as a separate and as a
dependent verb are described in Boas & Deloria.  The current surface forms
in Dakotan are khi ~ khic^(a), of course.  The development of sense is
something like "with" > "both"/"in the middle" > "reciprocal" >

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