LINGUIST List 4.872

Sun 24 Oct 1993

Sum: Reciprocals, Origin of infixes

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  1. , Summary: Reciprocals
  2. , Summary: Origin of Infixes

Message 1: Summary: Reciprocals

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 93 15:30:21 CDSummary: Reciprocals
From: <>
Subject: Summary: Reciprocals

Several weeks ago, I posted a query and request for references
regarding a particular use of reciprocals, as in the following.

 (1) Those two boxes were stacked on top of each other.

Thanks to all those who replied. In additions to postings on Linguist
by Claudia Brugman and Joe Brown, I heard from David Nash, John
Nerbonne, Jan Odijk, Bill Croft, Peter Lasersohn, George Fowler,
Steven Franks, Jeff Kaplan, Stephen Spackman and Suzanne Kemmer.

I received several references, an anecdote, and one interesting
follow-up question. The references are as follows:

Croft, William, Hava Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot, and Suzanne Kemmer. 1987.
Diachronic semantic processes in the middle voice. Papers from the
7th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, ed. Anna
Giacolone Ramat, Onofrio Carruba and Guiliano Bernini, 179-192.
Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Fiengo and Lasnik (1973) `The Logical Structure of Reciprocal
Sentences in English', _Foundations of Language_ 9.447-468.

Heim, Lasnik and May (1991), `Reciprocity and Plurality', _Linguistic
Inquiry_ 22.63-101.

Higginbotham (1980), `Reciprocal Interpretation', _Journal of
Linguistic Research_ 1.97-117.

Kemmer, Suzanne. 1988. The Middle Voice: A Typological and Diachronic
Study. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Linguistics, Stanford
University. (Recently published by Benjamins).

Langendoen, D.T. (1978) `The Logic of Reciprocity', Linguistic Inquiry
9, 177-197.

Lichtenberk, Frantisek. 1985. Multiple uses of reciprocal
constructions. Australian Journal of Linguistics 5.19-41.

The anecdote came from Jeff Kaplan:

 >> Stan Humphries, San Diego Chargers quarterback, said this about
 >> his poor play last Sunday, according to the San Diego
 >> Union-Tribune: "Maybe I tried to put too much on my shoulders and
 >> tried to make the big play too quick. Maybe I should have stayed
 >> with the shorter stuff. But I was trying to make a big play. It
 >> ended up compiling itself on top of each other."

The follow-up question arose in discussion with Stephen Spackman. In
my idiolect, "one another" is synonymous with "each other," so
whatever there is to say about (1) would apply equally to (2).

 (2) Those two boxes were stacked on top of one another.

For Spackman, (2) is not a paraphrase of (1) at all, but of (3).

 (3) Those two boxes were stacked one on top of the other.

For both of us, (3) is perfectly good, and is a way of getting around
the semantic anomaly of (1). We differ only as to whether (2)
exhibits this same anomaly. Spackman wrote:

 >> This is even clearer with "in front": "put them down in front of
 >> one another" is fine; "... in front of each other" is absurd.

For me, their status is the same; that is, literally anomalous, but
real people probably produce them, and we can infer what they mean.

So, is the difference between Spackman and me one of dialectal

 Dale Russell
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Message 2: Summary: Origin of Infixes

Date: Sat, 23 Oct 93 08:37:04 EDSummary: Origin of Infixes
From: <>
Subject: Summary: Origin of Infixes

Thanks to everybody who responded to my query about the origins of

The principal reference I got was Russel Ultan's article 'Infixes
and their origins' in Hansjakob Seiler (ed.) Linguistic Workshop
(Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1975), which I am told also argues that
infixes originate either from metathesis or reanalysis of suffixal
or prefixal material.

However, David Stampe suggested that such metathesis may not
necessarily be phonological in its origins, because he seems to
have examples where it would otherwise apply to words to which it
does not in fact apply. He also suggests that suffixes which never
appear word-finally (and presumably also prefixes which never
appear word-initially) are sometimes analyzed as infixes.

I am also told that there is an important article on the infixed
-it- in Spanish by Oswaldo Jaeggli, "Spanish Diminutives" (1980),
in _Contemporary Studies in Romance Langauges_ edited by Frank
Nuessel. Indiana University Linguistics club.

Finally, there is supposed to a more recent analysis of the Spanish
forms like Osquitar (diminutive of Oscar) by James Harris in LI,
but I did not receive a complete reference.
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