A functional account of grammatical number in English reflexive pronouns

Nancy Stern


Number morphology appears twice in English reflexive pronouns, first on the pronominal-possessive portion of the form, and second on the inflectional ending.  Usually, the two number markings co-vary, but ‘crossed’ number forms like ourself and themself – and even myselves and herselves – are also attested. This paper argues that the two opportunities to signal number can be creatively exploited for communicative purposes, and are not controlled syntactically. The data and analysis presented provide support for a view of grammatical categories (even those commonly regarded as syntactically determined) as independent bearers of meaning.


English, reflexive pronouns, grammatical number, Columbia School, semantics, pragmatics, functional explanation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v1i0.3724

Copyright (c) 2016 Nancy Stern

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