Archive for the ‘Reflexives’ Category

From the reflexives files

September 23, 2012

From Steven Weinberg‘s article “Why the Higgs?”, New York Review of Books 8/16/12, p. 78, two conjoined objects with a personal pronoun as 2nd conjunct. First, in par. 5, with the first 1sg pronoun in the piece:

This is what happens in the theory of weak and electromagnetic forces proposed in 1967–1968 by Abdus Salam and myself.

and then, in par. 8, after an occurrence of Salam and I as subject:

One of the consequences of theories in which symmetries are broken by scalar fields, including the models considered by Goldstone and the 1964 papers and the electroweak theory of Salam and me, is that …

That is, Weinberg introduces himself into the text with a reflexive pronoun, myself. A nominative  form I follows, in When Salam and I used ...; after it, an accusative me (and then another nominative I, in Salam and I found …). Those exhaust the 1sg pronouns in the text.

What’s notable about this is the myself, an “untriggered” reflexive, neither anaphoric (with an antecedent in its clause) nor emphatic (doubling another NP, as in He himself did it). The usage literature is pretty much dead set against untriggered myself, which means that this literature doesn’t even consider what writers like Weinberg are doing with it.

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Viewpoint reflexive?

April 19, 2012

Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky points me to an interview with Bradford W. Parkinson, the chief architect of GPS, which contains the remarkable sentence

It was hurting themselves.

with an instance of themselves that flagrantly fails to satisfy the Clause-Mate Condition on reflexives in English, requiring that

Reflexive pronouns and their antecedents must belong to the same clause. (link; the sense of belong to here is explained in this posting)

But “untriggered reflexives” also occur in English, and there’s considerable variation from speaker to speaker as to which of these are acceptable. Even with context, Parkinson’s sentence is unacceptable to many speakers, but it does fit into a class of cases that some speakers accept: viewpoint, or perspectival, reflexives.

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Data points: optional reflexives 3/17/11

March 17, 2011

From “Australia’s truly glamorous camper”, NewScientist 3/5/11, p. 22:

Call it classy camping gear. Baby Australian leafhoppers (Kahaono montana) pitch silk tents to keep them safe from predators.

The point of interest is the non-reflexive object them, anaphoric to the subject baby Australian leafhoppers — in a configuration where a reflexive pronoun (themselves) would normally be expected.

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