what to make of the Spanish IRSE?

Giorgio Francesco Arcodia -- ============================================================ Ljuba Veselinova, Associate Professor Dept of Linguistics, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden Phone: +46-8-16-2332 Fax: +46-8-15 5389 URL : http://www2.ling.su.se/staff/ljuba/ "We learn by going where we want to go." Julia Cameron ============================================================ giorgio.arcodia at UNIMIB.IT
Tue Sep 16 09:31:41 UTC 2014

Dear colleagues,

In standard Italian, -se with the verb andare ('go') is 
nearly always used in 2p imperative forms, I think, 
together with -ne (sorry for the inaccurate glossing):


'(you >1) leave!! (from here)'

You could, in principle, use the cliticless form


But this sounds odd to me as a native speaker, and I feel 
it's a high-register (bookish?) variant. 'andatevene' 
sounds very natural (and colloquial), and is certainly a 
stronger imperative. Anyway, -ne (ablative?) is always 
present (different from Spanish?).

I suspect this is connected with a more general colloquial 
use of -se as an intensifier with verb as 'mangiare' 
(eat), 'bere' ('drink'), etc.

che  ti       sei         mangia-t-o?
what 2pl.refl be.pres.2sg eat-ptcp.pst-m.sg
'what did you eat?'

as opposed to (more standard/formal)

che cosa hai           mangia-t-o?
what     have.pres.2sg eat-ptcp.pst-m.sg

Without the 'intensifier' -se form (note the different 

This should come from Southern dialects. In Lancianese 
(Abruzzo), you tipically use  of the verb morire 'to die' 
in the 'reflexive' (middle?) form:

nonno   me       s'ha                  mor-te
grandpa 1sg.poss 3sg.ref have.pres.3sg die-ptcp.pst

Native speakers of this dialect I consulted suggest that 
the sentence would be ungrammatical otherwise (i.e. 
without the reflexive/middle form of 'morire'). The 
opposite holds for standard Italian.

I hope this can help you. All the best,

Giorgio F. Arcodia

Dr. Giorgio Francesco Arcodia
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca
Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione
Edificio U6 - stanza 4101
Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo, 1
20126 Milano

Tel.: (+39) 02 6448 4946(+39) 02 6448 4946
Fax: (+39) 02 6448 4863
E-mail: giorgio.arcodia at unimib.it
On Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:16:18 +0200
> Hi. I disagree, there is no sense of willfulnes or 
>deliberateness, just the
> opposite. It is in fact middle voice. And it is not 
>exactly colloquial,
> altyhough there is a lot of variation among the 400 
>million speakers, of
> course! But I do not see it as "stronger" than ir. 
>Neither do the many
> grammars, papers etc devoted to the analysis of this 
> Seeing a form in a language as "kinda like English" is 
>very inadequate, I
> think. Just try to say "up and die" or the like. There 
>is just no
> grammaticalised equivalence in English. There are many 
>similarities with
> the Nordic languages, but not with English.
> Enrique
> 2014-09-15 23:34 GMT+02:00 Haag, Marcia L. 
><haag at ou.edu>:
>>  For me, it's kinda like English 'up and leave', which 
>>has a more
>> colloquial and stronger sense than 'go' or 'leave.'
>>  'He left' vs 'He up and left.'
>>  The Spanish reflexive gives the sense of willfulness or 
>> and counts among the uses of middle voice rather than 
>>pure reflexive.
>> Marcia Haag
>> Associate Professor of Linguistics
>> President's Associates Presidential Professor
>>  On Sep 15, 2014, at 1:39 PM, Donald Stilo wrote:
>>  Dear Enrique,
>>  Regarding *Juan se murió *de un disparo*:  But m*e 
>>muero de hambre* is
>> OK, isn't it? Why? Is it because it is not external?
>>  And to Sergey: in addition to Spanish *irse*, note 
>>French: *je m'en
>> vais,* Italian *me ne vado* "I'm leaving, going away".
>>  Thanks, Don
>>  On Sep 15, 2014, at 5:21 PM, ENRIQUE BERNARDEZ SANCHIS 
>>  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.
>> Enrique
>> 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
> -- 
> 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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