Benefactive Reflexives

REGINA PUSTET pustetrm at
Wed Nov 17 01:29:39 UTC 2004

It took some digging around in the hundreds of pages of Lakota field data that I have, but to get back to the original post on the ambiguity of ic�i-forms between patientive reflexive ('oneself') and benefactive reflexive ('for oneself'), it is very real in Lakota.
Here is a contrastive pair, again with kaGa 'make':

patientive reflexive:

ey�s^na       wich�s^a    ic��-chaGiN    na    uNgn�s^    wam�khas^kaN

sometimes  man            3RFL-make    and   maybe       animal

(about Iktomi) 'Sometimes he turns himself into a man, at other times maybe into an animal'

benefactive reflexive:

eh�Nni     Lakh�ta   ki       chaNs^�N         ic��-chaGa-pi

old-time  Lakota      DEF  chewing gum   3RFL-make-PL

'the old-time Lakota made chewing gum for themselves'

More examples of benefactive reflexives:

thalo   he     o-mic'i-he

meat   that   cook-1SG.RFL-cook

'I cooked that meat for myself'

aGuqapi   he      wa-mic'i-kse

bread        that   cut-1SG.RFL-cut

'I cut that bread for myself'

owiNz^a  he      mic'i-glayeqe

quilt         that

'i sewed that quilt for myself'

Interestingly, in this example, the alternative form miglayeqe can be used as well, with no change in meaning.

Now this is actually a possessive reflexive (at least the translation is possessive):

w��okiye   ic��-la-kta

pension     3RFL-ask for-FUT

'he was going to ask for his pension'

What I'm wondering now is what the scope of the phenomenon is, lexically speaking, i.e. how many verbs behave like this. In fact, it now occurs to me that ic'i-forms are the ONLY forms that I have managed to elicit so far when benefactive reflexives were at issue. The other thing that comes to my mind is that some verbs, among these k'u 'give', when the benefactive (no matter if reflexive or not) is expressed, never combine with the benefactive person markers, but rather, with plain patient ('object') forms. Such as:

mn�       wich�-k'u-pi

water    3PL.PAT-give-PL

'they give them water'

So if I have, by some incredible accident, elicited my benefactive reflexives by means of such verbs only so far, the natural explanation for the occurrence of patient-like looking benefactive reflexives would be that the verbs in question are special in that they ALWAYS mark benefactives with patient markers. But I doubt that this is the case. I'll check it out.


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