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Converse relations with the reflexive marker in Lithuanian and Polish

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Abstract

This paper discusses the various methodological and theoretical prerequisites necessary to cope with a seemingly quite simple task. This task consists in establishing the number and types of verb pairs in Lithuanian and Polish which are morphologically related by the presence vs. absence of the reflexive marker and which, from a semantic point of view, relate to each other like converses (= RM-converses). We are faced with the question of whether RM-converses can really be considered a class in a taxonomy of RM-derivatives, sufficiently distinct, primarily, from anticausatives. After delimiting (RM-)converses from symmetrical and reciprocal predicates as well as from the grammatical passive, it turns out that any sensible proposal for a differentiation between RM-converses and anticausatives hinges on the status of the obliquely marked constituent: if it is treated as an argument of the RM-derivative, it has to be counted as a converse to the non-RM-verb since numerical valence is retained; if the oblique constituent counts as an adjunct, the RM-derivatives should be considered an anticausative. The question thus boils down to “taking cuts” on an argument – adjunct cline. Since no existing theoretical account of the morphology-semantics interface provides clear-cut criteria for making decisions that can be generalized, criteria are detailed on a language-specific basis and applied to Lithuanian and Polish two-place RM-converses, for which lexical groups are established. Contrasts between both languages are highlighted on the basis of an in-depth analysis. With all methodological caveats in mind, one of the results of an investigation thus conducted consists in a commented list of RM-converses which, for Lithuanian, comprises three times as many items as were established in earlier investigations of RM-verbs. Apart from this, and the methodological pitfalls brought to light, the article discusses various specific effects relevant for a lexical typology of minor classes of RM-verbs.

References

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