Volume 40, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714



Middle markers are characterized by a distribution halfway between grammar and the lexicon: with some verbs, middle marking encodes valency change, while with others it obligatorily occurs with no obvious synchronic motivation. Despite the existing cross-linguistic work on middle markers, their history is still largely unknown. In the typological literature, the standard view is that middle markers predominantly have their origin in reflexive markers, and that, in their development, it is invariantly the grammatical component that expands to the lexical component. In this paper, I challenge these assumptions based on the analysis of a sample of 129 middle marking languages. As I show, the sources and pathways whereby middle markers come about are much more numerous and varied than what has been reported in the literature. By taking a source-oriented approach, I also discuss how recurrent cross-linguistic trends in the distribution of middle markers can in part be explained by looking at their history.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): diachronic typology; middle marker; middle voice; reflexive
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