88 Intensifiers and reflexive pronouns

This feature is described more fully in chapter 88.


This feature (based on WALS feature 47, by Ekkehard König & Peter Siemund (with Stephan Töpper)) deals with reflexive pronouns. Such pronouns are 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).

Here we ask whether intensifiers and reflexives are identical or different. If the reflexive pronoun contains the intensifier (as in Creolese, where ii-self is the reflexive pronoun and self is the intensifier), this also counts as identity.


Martin Haspelmath and the APiCS Consortium


Intensifiers and reflexives are identical27
Intensifiers and reflexives are differentiated24
Intensifiers and reflexives overlap12
Identical and differentiated1
No special reflexive pronouns exist6

Language Value Lexifier Details Source
Id Primary text Analyzed text Gloss Translation Type Language Audio Details