In this chapter we ask how reciprocal constructions are expressed, and in particular whether they are identical to reflexive constructions or different from them (see Maslova & Nedjalkov 2005 for the corresponding WALS chapter). In most languages, there is a special reciprocal construction not identical to a reflexive construction, so within the languages with special reciprocal constructions, we make some further distinctions.
We focus on reciprocal constructions with transitive non-symmetrical verbs such as ‘see’ (‘The girl and the boy saw each other’). It should be noted that symmetrical verbs sometimes behave differently, e.g. in English, where with the verb kiss, no reciprocal pronoun is needed (The boy and the girl kissed). This is also the case in some creoles (e.g. Guadeloupean Creole yo bo ‘they kissed’), but such cases are disregarded here.
In the world’s languages, identity with reflexives is not uncommon, but distinct reciprocal constructions are more common, especially in Eurasia. Outside of the Americas, identity of reciprocals and reflexives is found especially in western and central Africa and in Australia Maslova & Nedjalkov 2005). For a very detailed study of reciprocals in the world’s languages, see Nedjalkov (ed.) 2007.
We distinguish six different values:
|Reciprocal construction identical to reflexive||10|
|Identical and special reciprocal construction||9|
|Special reciprocal construction based on 'other'||25|
|Special reciprocal construction based on 'companion'||7|
|Other special reciprocal construction||15|
|No reciprocal construction exists||3|
In nineteen languages, there exists a reciprocal construction which is identical to a reflexive construction. In ten languages (value 1), this is the only possibility, while in nine further languages (value 2), there is also another construction which is different from reflexive constructions. Identity is found especially in African English-based languages and in the very basilectal Caribbean English-based languages, where self is also used in reciprocal constructions:
Such sentences are usually ambiguous in these languages, i.e. they could also mean ‘They like/love themselves’. Identity is also found in the Australian languages Kriol and Gurindji Kriol, again based on a form deriving from self:
Both the Atlantic and Australian patterns may well be due to substrate influence, as identity of reciprocal and reflexive constructions occurs prominently in West African and Australian languages. Tok Pisin, too, has identity, based on the form yet (derived from English yet, also used as a focus marker):
In the Atlantic English-based languages, only the self reflexives, and not the ‘body’ reflexives can normally be used as reciprocals, and likewise, in Mauritian Creole, only the mem reflexive, and not the ‘body’ reflexive (with so lekor ‘his body’) can be extended to reciprocal use (see Chapter 87 on reflexive constructions). However, there is one African language with identity using the ‘body’ word: In Sango, tere ‘body’ is used both as a reflexive and as a reciprocal pronoun.
Palenquero is unique in that zero-marking has both a reflexive and a reciprocal sense:
Most of the APiCS languages have a special reciprocal construction. Frequently, this involves a reciprocal pronoun deriving from or including the element ‘other’ (value 3). The English-based varieties that are closer to English usually have a form deriving from one another (or occasionally each other), and the French-based varieties that are closer to French have a form deriving from French l’un l’autre [the.one the.other]. Some Portuguese-derived languages have a form such as Guinea-Bissau Kriyol un utru [one other], Casamancese Creole ŋutur (< uŋ utru).
But there are also ‘other’-based forms that are less close to the lexifiers and that are clearly innovative with respect to them. In the Gulf of Guinea creoles, ‘other’ by itself may be used as in Santome, or ‘other’ is used both in subject position and in object position, as in Principense (similarly in Batavia Creole):
This category also includes Afrikaans mekaar, derived from Dutch malk-ander ‘each other’.
Innovative reciprocal pronouns may also be derived from a ‘companion’ word (value 4), as in Cape Verdean Creole and in some French-based languages:
This category also includes forms derived from Dutch malk-ander ‘each other’ (such as Afrikaans mekaar, Early Sranan makanderen, Saramaccan makanda; in the latter two languages, the word is a borrowing).
In addition, various other special reciprocal markers occur in our languages (value 5):
– reciprocal affixes derived from Bantu (in Lingala, Kikongo-Kituba and Mixed Ma’a/Mbugu), from Philippine languages (in some of the Chabacano varieties), from Malay (in Ambon Malay), from Quechua (in Media Lengua) and from Cree (in Michif)
– the auxiliary hugá ‘play’ in Ternate Chabacano:
Some languages simply lack a special reciprocal form or construction (value 6) and use an “iconic” mode of rendering mutual situations, i.e. the two situations are expressed by two clauses, with the participants expressed twice.