LINGUIST List 14.2885

Wed Oct 22 2003

Qs: Reflexive/Nonreflexive Usage; Vowel Lengthening

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  1. Andres Enrique-Arias, loss of reflexive / non-reflexive distinction
  2. Hugues Steve N. Koumba-Binza, Universal vowel-lengthening rule

Message 1: loss of reflexive / non-reflexive distinction

Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2003 10:12:34 +0000
From: Andres Enrique-Arias <>
Subject: loss of reflexive / non-reflexive distinction

Dear Linguists,

I would like to ask whether in situations where there is a loss of
distinction in pronouns or grammatical elements that mark reflexive
and non-reflexive expression there is a common path of change. In
principle, because reflexive expression is semantically more
restricted than non-reflexive, if there were a merge of functions one
would expect non-reflexive expression to take over reflexive and not
the other way. For instance in Spanish non-reflexive pronouns can be
used for reflexive reference but not the other way. Juan lo quiere
todo para �l literally Juan wants everything for him, is interpreted
as meaning for himself, but the opposite, that is, non-reflexive
interpretation with a reflexive pronoun is not possible. However, I
have seen two historical processes where reflexive expression has
taken over non-reflexive meanings. For instance in Old Spanish the
change from dative pronoun ge > se (homonymous with reflexive se) has
resulted in the present ambiguity as to reflexivity / non-reflexivity
of the Spanish pronoun se when immediately followed by a third person
direct object pronoun. And in European Portuguese we have estou a
falar consigo I�m talking with you where consigo is originally a third
pers. reflexive pronoun meaning with himself.

Is it then the merge of reflexive and non-reflexive something common
crosslinguistically and if thats the case, can it happen in either
direction? Ill be glad to post a summary of responses if there is
enough interest. Thanks,

Andr�s Enrique-Arias 
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Message 2: Universal vowel-lengthening rule

Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2003 12:03:30 +0000
From: Hugues Steve N. Koumba-Binza <>
Subject: Universal vowel-lengthening rule

Dear linguists,

Is it truly an universal rule that vowels are usually lengthened
before the consonants /l/ and /r/? Please, provide me with some
references on this question.

Thank you 
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