Macedonian se-constructions and their equivalents in English: A Cognitive Study, Skopje: Makedonska reč, 2011
(Summary in English) Liljana Mitkovska FON University, Skopje liljana.mitkovska@fon.edu.mk

1. Introduction The aim of this study is to investigate the structure and functions of the Macedonian constructions with the grammatical element se of reflexive origin and establishing their equivalent constructions in the English language. The main goal is to show that the functions expressed by these se-constructions in Macedonian represent semantically connected contexts rather than a random sum of meanings that have accidentally acquired the same form. This assumption is based on the hypothesis that the common form indicates semantic relation: a structure may be extended from one function to another if those two functions are semantically related, i.e., share certain semantic features. Even though some of them are of morpho-syntactic or syntactic and some of lexical-syntactic nature, all identified classes of constructions are semantically related and together make up a complex conceptual network. Heine‟s (1992:349) suggestion for continuous linguistic structures, called grammaticalization chain, was adopted as the most appropriate model for the organization of this network (Figure 1). It is based on the principle of family resemblances, so that each class is characterized by a number of features and could be considered as a separate phase on a semantic continuum. However, each phase shares some features with the neighbouring phases. The more remote the phases are from each other, the fewer common characteristics they have.





Figure 1. Grammaticalization chain (Heine 1992:349) The study is organised as follows: chapter one, Introduction, consists of an exposition of the theoretical background and the previous studies on reflexive constructions in Macedonian and other Slavic and non-Slavic languages; chapter two gives an extensive analysis of the classes of the Macedonian se-constructions on syntactic, semantic and referential level with special emphasis on the relations between their internal members and the links with the neighbouring phases on the continuum; chapter three discusses the structures that are used to express the same situations in English. They were identified in the compiled translation equivalents from Macedonian and the most common correspondents to each class were established; since English deals with the relevant semantic field in a very different

PASSIVE EMOTIONS RESULTATIVE PREUDO-PASSIVE DECAUSATIVE P A S S I V E ACTIVE Figure 2. Here we present a brief summary of the basic findings.2 way. differentiated according to the semantic role of the subject referent. The Continuum of the Macedonian se-constructions . The four types of situations they express (two types of reflexive situations. Following the proponents of Cognitive Grammar (Lakoff 1987. and on the horizontal axis the continuum between active and passive situations. They represent various types of diathesis. ACTIVE TRANSITIVE DIRECT – REFLEXIVE PROTOTYPICAL RECIPROCAL A U P T A O O C S C T S A I Е U O S S N S A NATURAL A I T RECIPROCAL L V I E V E REMOTE CAUSATION APSOLUTIVE INTRANSITIVE MODAL IO CAUSATIVE-REF. as shown in Figure 2 below. autonomous situations and agent defocusing situations) can be graphically represented as positioned on two intersected axes: on the vertical axis is the continuum between the transitive and intransitive situations. Types of situations expressed with se-constructions in Macedonian Тhe separate classes of the Macedonian se-constructions represent different phases of the process of grammaticalization of the reflexive pronoun: from an independent lexical item (in direct reflexive constructions) to a grammatical marker (in the reflexive passive constructions). the relations between the members are explained by metaphorical and other cognitive mechanisms of meaning extension. Kemmer 1993. among others). some typologically relevant conclusions can be drawn from this analysis. Janda 2000. but are built on the prototype principle with some members exhibiting more central features than others. Johnson 1987. Langacker 1991. which are presented at the end of this chapter and in chapter four. The classes themselves are not unified structures. 2.

The term „subject reflexive‟ is from Geniusiene (1987). a sebe ne se usreќiv. se prijavi „register‟) as well as emotional speech acts (se izvini „excuse oneself‟. translational motion (se pomesti „move‟. 1993). involving an intentional volitional participant.‟ These semantic characteristics are reflected in the syntactic structure. even though this construction codes situations with a single referent it is semantically transitive and syntactically represented as a two-argument structure. 1994:206-212). The subject referent has an active role in the event. but when used intransitively keep the subject of the transitive counterpart in the subject position. but they involve only one referent. „actional‟ constructions comprising various typically human activities (se preprava „pretend‟. (VIMS:264) „I made you unhappy. In direct reflexive constructions the two participants are maximally distinguished and as a result the participant is viewed as doubled. The direct reflexive construction builds a transitive sentence with the reflexive pronoun sebe(si) se taking the position of the DO.‟ (2) Vas ve unesreќiv. se gotvi „prepare‟. and did not make myself any happier.1. are located at the active pole. but this is also the case with the entity which suffers the effects of the event. In contrast to direct reflexive constructions. It is used for the central reflexive constructions with coreferential subject and direct object. (1) Kirkov se vide i sebesi vo ogledaloto. who uses it for verbs which belong to the transitive class. Even if the long form is omitted in some contexts. This property determines the basic functions of these constructions: for expressing emphasis and/or contrast (example 1 and 2). these two aspects of the initial participant are not clearly differentiated but merge in one complex semantic role. se svrti „turn round‟). Depending on the degree of differentiation of the two roles of the participant. se navedne „bend down‟. it can always be recovered. we can distinguish two types of constructions: direct reflexive and subject reflexive.1 The two constructions exhibit separate semantic. se zakani „threaten‟) and the so called „possessive‟ constructions in which the verb incorporates the part of the body 1 The term „direct reflexive‟ is from Kemmer (1988. Subject reflexive constructions comprise several different types. The central types of constructions. They all show lower degree of distinguishability of participants.). The degree of differentiation varies depending on the lexical meaning of the verb and the nature of the participant. se moli „pray‟. Reflexive situations Reflexive situations encode events which require two participants with different semantic roles. change in body posture (se pokloni „bow‟. They comprise „autocausal‟ constructions expressing body actions such as grooming (se kape „bathe‟. The agent acts upon her/himself in the same way as s/he would act upon some other entity. due to the „relative elaboration of events‟ (Kemmer 1993:71-73. se kači „climb‟). Their differentiation is based on the degree of distinguishability of participants. se odnesuva „behave‟.3 2. (JBSA:212) „Kirkov also saw himself in the mirror. The entity causing the event (Initiator) is at the same time the entity which suffers the consequences of this event (Endpoint). . se šminka „make up‟. pragmatic and syntactic features. Consequently.

which explains their formal affinity in many languages. is marked with the reflexive clitic se and it “is strongly associated with simultaneity” (ibid. The two constructions used for coding reflexive situations in Macedonian. The reflexive pronoun is reduced to a verbal marker signalling the complex role of the referent in the subject position. on the other hand. while adding the long form sebe(si) typically results in ungrammaticality (example 3) or semantic change of the verb (example 4). the subject reflexive construction is syntactically intransitive. Taa se zanimava so intelektualna rabota.e. The reflective causative constructions represent a marginal sub-type (se potšišuva na berber „have one‟s hair cut at the barber‟s). The natural reciprocal situation. .‟ б. Constructions expressing events in which the participant loses some of its agentive properties (intentionality in the first place) lean towards the passive pole. se iznenadi „get surprised‟. which is matched on syntactic level with a heavy marker (the reflexive clitic plus eden so drug/megju sebe).‟ 2.4 involved (se mie „wash one‟s face‟. but while in the direct reflexive construction they are represented by two syntactic arguments. In the prototypical reciprocal events the role of each participant is individualised and they “are temporally indifferent” (ibid. Toj poveќе се zanimavaše sebe otkolku decata. “the relation A stands to B is the same as that in which B stands to A” (Lichtenberk 1985:21). although related.bez zdiv rеčе Šišman. it is both the initiator and the end point). Only the clitic form of the reflexive pronoun is part of this construction. . se zakači „get caught‟) and emotional reactions (se vozbudi „get excited‟.2. express two different types of situations that exhibit different pragmatic. semantic and syntactic properties. According to Kemmer (1993. the type of constructions we call subject reflexive represent the central middle domain. There are two main types: non-intentional human activities called „resultative‟ (se sopne „stumble‟. but the second participant is not individualised and has no syntactic representation. 1994). direct reflexive and subject reflexive. se raduva „rejoice‟).‟ (MJC:114) (4) а.). se obližuva „lick one‟s lips‟). The reciprocal domain is also complex and exhibits properties parallel to the reflexive domain.:148). (MJB:339) „We didn‟t cross ourselves Shishman said breathlessly. Reciprocal situations Reciprocal situations involve typically two (and sometimes more) participants which are in symmetrical relation to one another. Both involve only one participant with two semantic roles. „He entertained himself more than the children. (i. „She is engaged in intellectual activities.. se dogovorija „they agreed‟) is the complexity of the subject referent role and the degree of elaboration of events (Kemmer 1988:147). se kolnat edni so drugi „they curse each other‟) and the natural ones (se razdelija „they parted‟. (3) – Ne se prekrstivme (*sebe). An important distinguishing factor between the prototypical reciprocal situations (se mrazat megju sebe „they hate each other‟.

Jas ne go rasipav aparatot. it broke by itself. neither could they be prevented. For example. the construction is formally an intransitive structure. (PM:293) „Maybe it has rained.e. . Decausative constructions encode events involving one participant. but retains some agentive properties which contributes to its conceptualisation as an active subject. (5) I Vilant reče. We consider these and similar meanings as an indication of the metaphorical transfer from subject reflexive constructions involving a human participant. which represent the final phase of the event. but when used intransitively the transitive object takes the subject position. the spontaneity of the event is only a way of representation. to decausative where the participant is typically non-human.. These implications 2 This term is from Geniusiene 1987. i. the batteries were dead...‟). However. (7) Cenite se krevaat. hence decausative constructions can be used for types of events remote from the reflexive ones. Se pomestila nekoja keramida i . se istrošija bateriite. The participant is actively involved in the occurrence of the event and the focus of attention is what happens to it. sam si se rasipa. there are central and peripheral constructions connecting this domain with the active pole on one hand and with the passive on the other.3. As in the previous class. the referent of which is the main target (example 5 and 6). sentences in which the initiator is clearly implied and present both on the referential and on the semantic level. A roof tile has moved and …‟ Some spontaneous change of place or position (as well as condition) of the nonpotent referent could be presented as set off by this very participant (Topkata sama od sebe se strkala nadolu.‟ In the transfer zone between object and passive reflexive constructions we find a range of constructions (pseudo-passive se-constructions) in which the initiator is implied to a certain degree and the subject referent loses its active role properties because the events they code require human involvement. this participant is not presented as a passive undergoer.‟ Vesta se proširi brzo. „The news spread/was spread quickly. We often encounter constructions that are ambiguous out of context. The metaphor has gradually become usual. „I did not break the camera. It can be more strongly felt in some situations so that those constructions incline towards passive sentences. while in reality there can always be imagined some potential distant causer. (MR:150) ‟But Villant said. irrespective of whether it occurs spontaneously or is caused by some outside causer. Generally. ‟The ball rolled down by itself‟. The clitic pronoun se does not take up a syntactic position but is rather a part of the verb lexeme. Those events are mainly physical processes: they could not be caused intentionally. the sentences in (7) can be equally well interpreted as happening spontaneously or initiated by some generalized human agent. As a result.‟ (MSS:129) (6) Moţebi vrnelo.5 2. „Prices rose/were raised. Autonomous situations Object reflexive construction2 are used for coding autonomous situations. who uses it for verbs which belong to the transitive class.

. zloto ne se kornit lesno od čoveka. (ŢČB:81) „… evil cannot be rooted out easily out of men. (12) Na razni strani se izvikuvaa razni komandi. (ŢČB:112) „Thus the old people did not feel like giving away their daughter..‟ (MJFM:74) Both constructions share the characteristic of agent demotion and thus placing the event itself in the focus rather than the undergoer or the effects of the activity.. does not occur in the syntactic structure.‟ 2. Agent defocusing situations Macedonian se-constructions are also used for expressing situations which are perceived as agent initiated. When the se-construction is used with a verb for an activity that requires an agent. (8) (9) . „That is criticized by everyone.4 3 In the last two examples the dative object has a key role in the interpretation of the construction. (MJZT:35) „That thing over there was a boulder. We consider these constructions to be a logical extension of those expressing autonomous events.. There is only small difference between situations where the causer is totally abstracted and those where it is generalized. isto taka pretočno se znaeše koj na koe sedište sedi . i.4.).. 4 See Митковска 1997.. Moreover. volitional (11) 3. having no important role. but they share the agent defocusing function with the prototypical passives...‟ Vaka li se čistat ališta..‟ (MSS:203) (13) . but it is rarely encountered. it is implied as an unidentified or generalised human agent. as pointed out above. you silly Anastasia?!‟ (10) Ona tamu beše kamen. it was also determined who sits where in the official red bus. It is nevertheless present on the semantic level.e. but there are also subjectless constructions (example 13). (MJB:259) „Different commands were cried out on all sides. Actually. . if the base verb is intransitive or has a clausal or prepositional complement. . The latter are less prototypical passive constructions... then it is implied in a general sense and the construction is re-analysed.6 combine with the verbal aspect and result in various types of modal interpretations: potential (example 8). subjective (10). but now it seemed to him as a lying soldier. There is a possibility of expressing the agent in an agentive adjunct phrase (Toa se osuduva od site. but the agent. no sega mu se gleda kako zalegnat vojnik. normative (9).. glupava Anastasijo? (VIČT:177) „Is this how you clean clothes. the degree of abstraction of the causer varies depending on the type of the coded event and other circumstances. (MJCA:392) „.. two thirds of the passive se-constructions have the position of the subject filled by the thematic argument (example 12).‟ (11) Ottuka na starcite ne im se davaše čedoto.... We claim that the se-constructions expressing agent defocusing situations can rightfully be classified as passive se-constructions because the core representatives correspond to the passive prototype properties proposed by Shibatani (1985:837).

Such equivalents are . where it signals some kind of departure from the typical predicate-argument structure of the verb base. The three English constructions express different degrees of distinguishability of the two participants in the situation. (MR:237) „I want to abandon myself to the sound as I used to do.. though with different frequency and for each situation type one dominant structure can be isolated... or a new intransitive lexeme (example 17). The so called possessive constructions are transitive in English.‟ (MSS:213) (16) Kako što izleze taka se protegna zagleduvajќi se vo sončevinata … (MJB:239) „As he walked. tend to be expressed with intransitive verbs which have no transitive counterpart in English (example 17). (PM:243) „You see yourself sitting in a castle. implicit reflexive. example 3 above). etc.and be-constructions and the passive ones demonstrates the inclination of these constructions towards the passive pole. Unlike in the subject and object reflexive constructions.. there is a significant pattern which supports our hypothesis about the continuum. on the other hand. but rather a range of constructions perform these functions. Peripheral subject reflexive constructions (resultative and emotional reactions) have a different range of equivalents in English. 3.‟ (PM:242) (15) Muzikata e prijatna. Namely.‟ (MJC:56) (17) Se preprava deka ne go sluša. that is.. different degrees of elaboration of events. Those approaching the intransitive pole. because they express the involved body part explicitly: se preobleče „changed his clothes‟. (PM:125) „He pretended not to have heard him. However.‟ (PM:124) The implicit reflexive construction is the predominant equivalent in this class of se-constructions. Situations leaning towards the transitive pole are often translated with the reflexive construction in English. (14) Ti se gledaš sebesi kako sediš vo zamok. he stretched and gazed at the sunshine.)‟ are the only equivalents for the direct reflexive construction (example 14). Constructions with „verb + reflexive pronoun (myself. it is especially common with verbs of non-translational body motions (example 16). but the significant occurrence of the pseudo-passive get.. The implicit reflexive and the intransitive construction are also present. which corresponds to their function to express unintentional events.7 The marker se is of fundamentally different character in these constructions.. Sakam da i se predadam kako što umeev nekogaš. here it signals the rearrangement of arguments along the syntactic positions.. for each type of situations the core structures are repeated. even if they are undoubtedly subject (not direct) reflexive constructions in Macedonian (cf. In Macedonian they are all covered by „se + verb‟ construction. but central subject reflexives are rendered with three constructions mainly: the reflexive construction (example 15). Equivalents of the Macedonian se-constructions in English There is no single structure in English which figures as the main equivalent to all Macedonian se-constructions. yourself. with omitted DO (example 16).

. it may also occur in situations where the referent of the subject is inanimate. 43% of the equivalents are passive and approximately the same percentage falls to active constructions of two types: with generalized human subject (one. its form being identical with the ergative construction. (PM:135) „Suddenly the wall cracks. (Kejzer & Roper 1984:383) „Podot se bojadisuva lesno. . (H. as they prove the affinity between decausative and passive situations. Among the equivalents of those which have a verb marked for person. his voice would not issue forth..‟ (PM:126) Macedonian passive se-constructions are not always translated by the passive construction in English.‟ (20) History seems to be repeating itself.‟ (PM:134) The English reflexive construction does not have a significant role in this type of constructions. The equivalents of the pleudo-passive se-constructions are typically intermediate between active and passive constructions. (21) The floor paints easily...constructions and 9% of passive beconstructions). Those which are closer to passive usually correspond to passive constructions. the main English decausative strategy (example 21). (18) Naednaš popušta dzidot. (19) The words would not form themselves. this subject is personified (example 19). which imply that it is positioned closer to the intransitive pole and passive constructions (8% of pseudo-passive get. Those which are closer to the decausatives (with potential modal meaning) are partly equivalent to the English construction known as „middle‟. Frequently.‟ The different types of equivalents in English prove the different degrees of grammaticalisation of the se-constructions and reveal how the decausative senses (autonomous events) are linked to the reflexive senses (events without an outside causer). However.‟ (22) Laţeš! Na policijata ì se kaţuva sè.H. but the metaphor may also be weakened and then the reflexive pronoun signals the autonomous nature of the event (example 20).. Namely. since it strongly suggests an activity of an agent upon him/herself. with explicit modal meanings (example 22).. which prove their affinity to the passive pole. man. (PМ:127) „You are lying! The police must be told everything. glasot odbivaše da izleze . but enough. On the other hand. The most common equivalent of the Macedonian se-constructions for autonomous events seems to be the so called „ergative‟ construction (with a zero marker) (example 18).. (Longman. 1978:937) „Istorijata izgleda deka se povtoruva. Se otvora samo trojčka.:14) „Zborovite nikako da se oformat. i dovolno.8 indicative of the intermediate position of these constructions between the subject and the object reflexives. among the equivalents we also find two types of forms: active intransitive verbs (around 20%). Its functional zone correlates closely with that of the Macedonian decausative se-construction... the other equivalents suggest that the Macedonian construction has a wider scope. Nevertheless. we consider the passive equivalents especially significant.. It opens just a tiny bit.

the relation between passive and medial strategies indicates similarity between these two domains. „Безличните реченици во македонскиот јазик” Македонистика 5: 3-69. 3. (MJČSO:400) “Fellow. the pseudo-passive constructions with the resultative copula get. 4. become. „К теории описания рефлексивных глаголов (на материале литовского яазыка)” Во Храковский: 160-184.9 they) or with the subject whose referent is evoked from the context of the Macedonian sentence (example 23). Главса. it is important to point out that as equivalents of the Macedonian se-constructions in the medial domain (subject and object se-constructions) we mainly encounter three English constructions: the construction in which the change in the predicate-argument structure of the verb has no overt marking (implicit reflexive. their formal expression with the same type of construction in Macedonian is not unmotivated. The intransitive equivalents. the spread of the Macedonian se-constructions in the passive domain could be conceived as a natural extension of the construction from the autonomous domain. The fact that the same functions (subject-reflexive. etc. З. References 4. To sum up. ergative and middle). seem etc. decausative and potential) are coded in English with a construction with identical structure indicates the semantic affinity of these three types of situations.” they heard the voice of the man in the blue suit. however. 1978. Concluding remarks The structure of the English equivalents of the Macedonian se-constructions offers some insights into the nature of the Mac se-constructions. you. Б. 1988. a new lexeme which is not related to a transitive verb. „Рефлексив и средний залог в системе английских залогов и проблема гиперлексемы” Во Храковский: 162-171. Гоце. (MJFM:3) The subjectless passive reflexive constructions rarely have passive equivalents in English. Consequently. 1978. confirm the fact that the Macedonian se-constructions have extended their zone towards the intransitive pole. 1981. Sources in Cyrillic alphabet Генюшене. Гуржанов. Э. Ш. . and intransitive verb. or the stative copula be..se ču glasot na čovekot vo sina obleka. (23) . Therefore. „Некоторые замечания о рефлексивности” Во Храковский: 152-155. Долинина. И. ...Drugar.1. On the other hand. people) or indefinite (someone. . they) agent in subject position. These types of equivalents indicate that the passive se-construction is different from the English passive be-construction. pronounced at the overlapping points. They are most often translated as active constructions with a generalised (one.

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