[Lingtyp] "Double reflexive" constructions

Mark Post mark.post at sydney.edu.au
Thu Dec 9 03:37:00 UTC 2021

Dear Riccardo,

Related to Randy’s case below, in Macro-Tani languages (Trans-Himalayan; Arunachal Pradesh, India and Tibet) an unambiguous reflexive requires both predicate marking and a reflexive NP (noun or pronoun). If there’s a reflexive NP, the predicate marking is obligatory. If there’s only predicate marking, the sense can be ambiguous between reflexive (transitive stems only) and autonomous/emphatic (all stem types). The difference between the Macro-Tani case and the Dulong-Rawang case is that in Macro-Tani, the predicate suffix doesn’t detransitivize.

Hope that helps,



On 9 Dec 2021, at 1:33 pm, Randy J. LaPolla <randy.lapolla at gmail.com<mailto:randy.lapolla at gmail.com>> wrote:

Dear Riccardo,
The Dulong-Rawang language (Tibeto-Burman; northern Myanmar and south-western China) has a reflexive/middle marker that can be used with an emphatic pronoun, but doesn’t have to be. It is interesting to me that the languages you mention require a separate intransitiviser, as in Dulong-Rawang the middle marker is itself used as an intransitiviser in non-reflexive/middle situations. See the following two papers for examples:

LaPolla, Randy J. & Yang, Jiangling. 2005. Reflexive and middle marking in Dulong-Rawang. Himalayan Linguistics 2: 1-13.

LaPolla, Randy J. 2000. Valency-changing derivations in Dulong/Rawang. In R. M. W. Dixon & Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (eds.), Changing valency: Case studies in transitivity, 282-311. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Professor Randy J. LaPolla(罗仁地), PhD FAHA
Center for Language Sciences
Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences
Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai Campus
A302, Muduo Building, #18 Jinfeng Road, Zhuhai City, Guangdong, China


On 9 Dec 2021, at 1:15 AM, Riccardo Giomi <rgiomi at campus.ul.pt<mailto:rgiomi at campus.ul.pt>> wrote:

Dear typologists,

I am looking for languages in which, with some predicates at least, unambiguous expression of reflexivity is only attained by combining two separate markers. Typically, the elements participating in such "double-reflexive" constructions (quotes needed) belong to one of the following, broadly-defined classes:

- a valency-decreasing "middle" marker / intransitivizer (usually, though not necessarily a bound morpheme);

- a reflexive, personal or logophoric pronoun;

- a so-called reflexive intensifier, i.e. an element that functions like English reflexive pronouns in appositional or adverbial position (e.g. I myself swept the ground / I swept the ground myself).

Below are a few examples of possible combinations of such elements (I have harmonized the glosses used by the various authors):

Intransitivizer + reflexive pronoun: Kuuk Thaayorre

Intransitivizer + personal pronoun: Hmwaveke

Intransitivizer + intensifier (attached to the (subject) nominal and glossed 'SELF'): Dyirbal

Intransitivizer + intensifier (attached to the verb): Mezquital Otomí
(Gast & Siemund 2006: 368. The authors also give an example in which the intensifier takes the longer form sε̌hε̒ and occurs as an unbound adverb-like element.)

Intensifier (marked ergative, in apposition to the (subject) nominal) + personal/logophoric pronoun (marked absolutive) : Tsakhur

If any of you is aware of a language in which "double marking" of reflexivity is the only option, that would be especially helpful; but, more generally, I am interested in all such constructions -- or possibly other, comparable ones which I may be leaving out of the picture. (Please don't bother signalling Germanic or Romance data like German sich + selbst or Spanish si + a si mismo -- I am already taking those into account.)

Many thanks in advance, best wishes,

Dik, Simon C. 1983. The Status of verbal reflexives. In Liliane Tasmowski & Dominique Willems (eds.), Problems in syntax, 231–255. New York & London: Plenum Press.
Gaby, Alice. 2006. A grammar of Kuuk Thaayorre. Melbourne: University of Melbourne dissertation.
Gast, Volker & Peter Siemund. 2006. Rethinking the relationship between SELF-intensifiers and reflexives". Linguistics 44(2), 343-381.
Lyutikova, Ekaterina A. 2000. Reflexives and emphasis in Tsaxur (Nakh-Dagestanian). In Z. Frajzyngier and T. Curl (eds.), Reflexives: Forms and Functions, 227-255. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Moyse-Faurie, Claire. 2008. Constructions expressing middle, reflexive and reciprocal situations in some Oceanic languages. In Ekkehard König & Volker Gast (eds.), Reciprocals and reflexives: Theoretical and typological explorations, 105–168. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Riccardo Giomi, Ph.D.
University of Liège
Département de langues modernes : linguistique, littérature et traduction
Research group Linguistique contrastive et typologie des langues
F.R.S.-FNRS Postdoctoral fellow (CR - FC 43095)
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