Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton June 13, 2011

Oblique reflexives in Spanish: A constructional account of and sí mismo

Enrique L. Palancar
From the journal


Spanish reflexive forms in prepositional phrases often occur with the adjective mismo ‘self’ (e.g., para sí vs. para sí mismo ‘for himself’). This co-occurrence is at times optional, i.e., mismo functions as a reflexive intensifier as found in many other languages (König and Gast, Linguistic Typology 10: 223–276, 2006), and at times puzzlingly obligatory. This makes the collocations a complex phenomenon that has not yet been properly addressed in a comprehensive way. In this paper, I claim that the structures instantiate two independent pronominal constructions, which following the typology of reflexives in Haiman (Language 39: 781–819, 1983), I call the “light reflexive” [prep sí] and the “heavy reflexive” [prep sí mismo]. Basing my analysis on a study of 3,000 natural examples from the CREA (Corpus de referencia del español actual ‘Reference corpus of current Spanish’), I show that the two structures at times compete within the same grammatical frame, but most of the times, they mutually exclude each other: the light reflexive occurs mostly in frames bearing middle voice semantics, while the heavy reflexive serves as the most natural exponence of typical reflexive situations.

Published Online: 2011-06-13
Published in Print: 2011-June

©Walter de Gruyter