Intensifiers and Reflexive Pronouns (Feature 88)
Reflexive pronouns are expressions which are prototypically used to indicate that a non-subject argument of a transitive predicate is coreferential with (or bound by) the subject, i.e. expressions like English him-self: John1 saw himself1 in the mirror. (If a noun like ‘head’ is used in such contexts, or if the ordinary personal pronoun is used, this also counts as a “reflexive pronoun” for present purposes.)
Intensifiers are expressions like him-self, which can be adjoined to either NPs or VPs, are invariably focused and thus are prosodically prominent. The main function of intensifiers can be seen in the evoking of alternatives to the referent of the NP they relate to: The director himself opened the letter. (e.g. not his secretary)
Reflexives and intensifiers are frequently identical in form and thus only differentiated in terms of distribution (as, for instance, in English; value 1). However, there are also languages that have different words for the two (value 2). (Note that if the words are similar or partially identical, they still count as different words.) If there are two different words, and one of them is used in one function, while the other one is used in both functions, we have overlap. Finally, if there are three different words, we can have both identity and differentiation (form 1 is used for both functions; form 2 only for one function; form 3 only for the other function).
|1||Intensifiers and reflexive pronouns are formally identical||English Jane saw herself in the mirror .(reflexive), Jane herself opened the door.(intensifier)|
|2||Intensifiers and reflexive pronouns are formally differentiated|| French|
Véronique se regarde dans le miroir. [Véronique REFL look in the mirror]
'Véronique is looking at herself.' = reflexive,
vs. Véronique l'a vu elle-même.
[Véronique it has see.PTC she-INT]
‘Véronique saw it herself.’
|3||Intensifiers and reflexive pronouns overlap||Nigerian POSS+sef ‘intensifier; reflexive’ vs. POSS+body ‘reflexive’|
|4||Intensifiers and reflexives are identical and differentiated|
|5||No reflexive pronouns exist|