The rise of the affixal reflexive in Baltic and its consequences

Morphology, syntax and semantics


The article deals with the consequences of the affixalisation of the formerly enclitic reflexive pronoun in the Baltic languages. This affixalisation caused a reorganisation in the system of reflexive marking, as the new affixal forms became restricted to middle-voice meanings. The Old Lithuanian and Old Latvian texts reflect a transitional stage in this process. Oscillations in the choice of a verbal form to which an affixalising reflexive pronoun could accrete led to the rise of interesting morphosyntactic patterns with double or varying placement of the affixal marker. The disappearance of the reflexive marker from the syntax furthermore caused syntactic changes leading to the rise of new grammatical constructions. This is discussed in the article for permissive constructions as well as for raising constructions with verbs of saying and propositional attitude. The emphasis on the affixalisation process and on the semantic, morphosyntactic and syntactic processes it set in motion provides a common thread linking a number of seemingly unconnected changes. Though occurring in the prehistory of the Baltic languages, the affixalisation led to a chain of diachronic processes extending to the early 21th century.



affixation, clitic, reflexivity, middle voice, Baltic, Lithuanian, Latvian


Published : 2020-12-30

Holvoet, A., Kavaliūnaitė, G., & Brudzyński, P. (2020). The rise of the affixal reflexive in Baltic and its consequences. Baltic Linguistics, 11, 373–414.

Axel Holvoet 
Gina Kavaliūnaitė 
Paweł Brudzyński