Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, 26:833

The French reflexive and reciprocal se

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11049-008-9053-1

Cite this article as:
Labelle, M. Nat Language Linguistic Theory (2008) 26: 833. doi:10.1007/s11049-008-9053-1


It is argued that the reflexive clitic se does not operate in the lexicon in French reflexive and reciprocal constructions (excluding middles and anticausatives). The widely held approaches to reflexives, in which the reflexive clitic creates a one-place reflexive verb and/or absorbs a case feature on the verb, is both semantically inadequate and syntactically too local. The reflexive clitic appears with verbs and predicates that are independently semantically reflexive; French reflexive/reciprocal constructions are semantically transitive; and case absorption does not account for causative and applicative constructions. To account for the facts, it is proposed that se is a Voice head introducing in syntax the external argument of the verb, and stating that the referent of the object is determined on the basis of that of the subject.



Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de linguistiqueUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada