Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 1293–1350 | Cite as

Middle Voice and reflexive interpretations: afto-prefixation in Greek

  • Giorgos Spathas
  • Artemis Alexiadou
  • Florian Schäfer


This paper investigates in detail the properties of a particular morphological reflexivization strategy in Greek, named afto-prefixation. The basic building blocks of afto-prefixation are the prefix afto-, shown to be an anti-assistive intensifier, and Middle Voice, a non-active syntactic Voice that gives rise to an existential interpretation of the implicit external argument, like the canonical Passive, but exhibits no Disjoint Reference Effects, unlike the Passive. The reflexive interpretation of afto-prefixation is the result of semantically composing these two elements. We argue that neither the prefix nor non-active morphology is a reflexivizer, i.e. neither imposes identity between two arguments of the predicate. The results of our analysis are rather surprising to the extent that they show that there exist reflexivization strategies that involve no reflexivization at all. We show that Voice and the class of intensifiers are integral elements of certain reflexivization strategies and demonstrate how and why they interact compositionally in deriving reflexive interpretations. This interaction points towards an account of both anaphoric and morphological reflexivization strategies that depends crucially on properties of predicates (rather than anaphors), and is crucially based on a dissociation of intensification from reflexivization.


Reflexivization Middle Voice Passive Voice Disjoint reference Intensification Binding Theory Implicit argument 



We thank Elena Anagnostopoulou, Winnie Lechner, Jakub Dotlačil, Martin Haspelmath, Gereon Müller, as well as three anonymous reviewers for Natural Language and Linguistic Theory for insightful comments and suggestions. This work was supported by a DFG grant to the project B6 ‘Underspecification in Voice systems and the syntax-morphology interface’, as part of the Collaborative Research Center 732 Incremental Specification in Context at the University of Stuttgart.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giorgos Spathas
    • 1
  • Artemis Alexiadou
    • 1
  • Florian Schäfer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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