what to make of the Spanish IRSE?

Mon Sep 15 15:21:20 UTC 2014

Dear Sergey. No mystery here. The reflexive marker came to be used with a
variety of senses, all of them impliying the action is seen as restricted
to the participant; it may be reflexive (afeitarse: to shave (oneself)) to
pure middle voice: "caerse" "to fall down" implies that no external entity
or agent is responsible for the fall; to inceptive "irse" which usually
marks the beginning of the process of going. Another use of the -se form (a
pronoun in fact) is a kind of emphasis on the absolute limitation of the
action/process to the participant: rather like "caerse" but I would see in
a more radical way: morirse "to die" is different from simple morir (also
to die). The first (-se form) just tells us that the person died, with the
specific exclusion of any external participant, whereas in morir (or in
caer) the external participant, more or less agentive, is not excluded. You
cannot say "Juan se murió de un disparo" (Juan died from a shot / because
of a shot...), whereas Juan murió de un disparo is perfectly common.
Any history of the Spanish Language (there are many, in Spanish, German,
French, also in Russian, English...) you will find the historical process
leading from the reflexive to this array of "intransitivised" constructions.

2014-09-15 15:39 GMT+02:00 Sergey Lyosov <sergelyosov at inbox.ru>:

> Dear typologists,
> what do you think –se is doing on the Spanish irse  ‘to go away, to
> leave’? How come a reflexive marker on a detransitive verb of motion?
>   Sergey

Enrique Bernárdez
Catedrático de Lingüística General
Departamento de Filología Románica, Filología Eslava y Lingüística General
Facultad de Filología
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
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