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A Unified Approach to Reflexivization in Semitic and Romance

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The paper proposes a unified analysis of reflexivization, applicable equally to Semitic languages and to Romance languages. We contrast our account with previous ones that have distinguished between reflexivization of the sort found in Semitic, which is clause-bound, can be the input to nominalization, and is sensitive to the semantics of the verb, and reflexivization of the sort found in Romance which applies across clauses, is not the input to nominalization and is insensitive to the semantics of the verb. These analyses take reflexivization of the Semitic type to be a "lexical" operation, and Romance reflexivization to be a "syntactic" operation, though in both cases, reflexivization is characterized as an operation applying to the thematic roles of the verb. Consonant with the view that all valence changing operations apply to a uniform domain, we argue that reflexivization in Semitic and in Romance can be given a uniform analysis as an operation of exactly the same type in exactly the same local domain. The "syntactic" residue found in Romance can be shown not to be reflexivization at all, but to be better analyzed as anaphoric binding. The confusion is due to the syncretism between reflexive morphology and reflexive anaphors, in turn the result of a language change whereby pronouns morphologize. We address the issues which have precluded Romance reflexive clitics from being analyzed as anaphors.


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