Benefactive Reflexives

Koontz John E John.Koontz at
Wed Nov 17 02:37:11 UTC 2004

On Tue, 16 Nov 2004, REGINA PUSTET wrote:
> 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, ...

I'm going to have to search the files to see if I can find contrasting
usages of reflexive in OP.

> More examples of benefactive reflexives:
> ...
> 'I cooked that meat for myself'
> ...
> 'I cut that bread for myself'
> ...
> 'i sewed that quilt for myself'

At least one common element with benefactive reflexives is that reflexive
reading doesn't make much sense, but I think really that the essential
thing is that the verb continues to take (at least implicitly) its normal
sort of object or patient and that the presence of the reflexive indicates
that the subject and beneficiary are one.  Maybe the essential
characteristic of the relevant forms is that they prefer inanimate objects
and don't readily omit them, but admit an optional beneficiary?

While the examples from Regina and Jan are morphologically (mostly)
reflexive, it appears that reflexive possessive forms sometimes have this
reading, too, in Dakotan (and also in Omaha, given Ardis's example).
Perhaps the conditioning factor there is the extent to which the object
can be an inalienable possession?   If not, a reflexive is preferred?

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

I think this is the reflexive possessive form, but I can't remember for
Dakota!  Maybe it's first dative?

> Now this is actually a possessive reflexive (at least the translation is
> possessive):
> wó’okiye   ic’í-la-kta
> pension     3RFL-ask for-FUT
> 'he was going to ask for his pension'

How about 'He was going to ask for a pension for himself.' The first
approach assumes entitlement - it's his pension and now he wants it -
while the second depicts it as more of a boon that can't be counted on -
he'd like a stipend, but doesn't count on it.  I'm not suggesting a
there's a productive alternation possible, but that there might be a
stereoyped attitude to the likelihood of receiving a pension.

> What I'm wondering now is what the scope of the phenomenon is, lexically
> speaking, i.e. how many verbs behave like this.

I guess I'm suggesting this for the scope:  predicates that can't push an
object into chomage (if I can still use that expression!), but can admit
an optional benefactive reference to the subject, while the relationship
of the subject to the object is alienable possession.

I'd assume that any verb that allowed a reflexive possessive in Dakota
would allow a second dative if the beneficiary was not reflexive, and
would retain the object reference.  A verb that allowed a reflexive
possessive with benefactive reflexive reading would seem more likely to
allow a first dative if the beneficiary was not reflexive.

> 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.

I'm afraid I got lost here!

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