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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter Mouton December 9, 2017

Thoughts on the origin, progress, and pronominal status of reciprocal forms in Germanic, occasioned by those of Bavarian

Frans Plank
From the journal Linguistic Typology


Grammaticalised reciprocal markers in Germanic derive from combinations of a quantifier and the alterity word ‘other’, elaborating on a minimalist strategy of identical NP repetition suggesting rather than expressing reciprocity (‘earl[s] hated earl[s]’). Subserved by quantifier floating, they develop fromfree to tighter syntactic combinations and eventually intomorphological units, tending towards complete inflectional deactivation. Sooner or later in all Germanic languages, the quantifier part of the reciprocal gets inside prepositional phrases (‘earls fought each/one with other’> ‘earls fought with each/one other’). German continues this fusional theme by combining the reciprocal with prepositions in compounds; and in Bavarian it eventually gets reduced further to a bound stem limited to (partly lexicalised) combinations with a preposition, thus being barred from the direct object relation, unlike the reflexive. In tracing this overall diachronic scenario, the question is raised of the pronominality (or pro-NP-hood) of reciprocals in Germanic. It is argued that, regardless of their nominal and referential source, reciprocals here strongly incline towards becoming adverbs of attenuated, situational rather than personal reference, highlighting the relational (role reversal) rather than the (co-)referential component of reciprocity, as is common also elsewhere.

Published Online: 2017-12-9
Published in Print: 2017-12-20

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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