The reflexive cycle
From reflexive to personal pronoun in Uralic
Starting from a morphosyntactic puzzle of the Ugric and Samoyedic languages of the Uralic family (possessive agreement suffixes functioning as accusative allomorphs on pronominal objects), this paper identifies a pronoun cycle which leads from reflexives via intensifiers and via referentially independent intensive pronouns to neutral pronouns. In Tundra Nenets, evidence of three rounds of reflexive renewal is also pointed out, with the three sets of pronouns frozen at different stages of the cycle. The analysis has implications for debated issues of language change. It is shown that elements participating in cyclic changes not only suffer feature loss but also incorporate features. Based on the recurring cycle in Tundra Nenets, it is argued that the cyclicity of linguistic changes implies a notion of unidirectionality that also leaves room for unpredictable outcomes.
- 2.Facts to explain: Possessive agreement qua accusative case
- 3.The source of possessive agreement on object pronouns: Reflexives in Ugric and Samoyedic
- 4.From reflexives to intensifiers; from intensified pronouns to intensive pronouns
- 5.The distribution of intensive pronouns in the Ugric and Samoyedic sentence
- 6.From intensive pronouns to neutral pronouns
- 7.Evidence of multiple cycles and lexical renewal in Tundra Nenets
- 8.Summary: The linguistic cycle
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