Metaphoric self-awareness in reflexive constructions

Academic Paper, 2017

244 Pages



List of Tables

List of Figures

List of Appendices


1.1 Introduction
1.2 Lexical and Grammatical Definitions
1.2.1 Find x-self
1.2.2 Lose x-self
1.2.3 Catch x-self
1.3 Grammatical Definitions

2.1 Introduction
2.2 Other-directed vs. non-other-directed events
2.3 Valency & Transitivity
2.3.1 Valency Valency and SA event verbs
2.3.2 Prototypical Transitive Events
2.4 The Transitive Middle
2.5 Chapter Conclusion

3.1 Conclusions


4.1 Introduction
4.2 Operational Definition of Self-Awareness
4.3 Definition and delineation of metaphor
4.4 Conceptual Metaphor
4.5 Schematicity and domains
4.6 Image Schema
4.7 Abstract Domains and Metaphor
4.8 Chapter Conclusion

5.1 Introduction
5.2 Cognitive Grammar
5.2.1 Cognitive Grammar and find/lose
5.2.2 CG and Reflexive FIND and LOSE
5.3 Subjectivity and SA events
5.4 The Divided Self and SA Events
5.5 Mapping of Metonymy and SA events
5.6 Conceptual Metaphor and SA events
5.7 Categorizing SA events: metonymy and metaphor
5.8 Chapter Conclusion


6.1 Introduction
6.2 Metaphor Identification Method
6.3 Corpus Research Method
6.4 Preliminary Corpus Analysis and Methodological Considerations
6.5 Results
6.6 Verbs of Self-Perception

7.1. Find x-self
7.2. Subtleties in the Corpus Data
7.3. Results for [FIND X-SELF]
7.4. Results for [pRO + FIND + X-SELF]
7.4.1. Fuzzy construals within [p*][find][ppx*]
7.4.2. More about the FoA
7.5. Nouns as Antecedents: [n*][find][ppx*]
7.5.1. Nouns as Antecedents: sorted by ‘word’
7.5.2. Fuzzy construals for [n*][find][ppx*]
7.6. Discussion

8.1. Introduction
8.2. Method
8.2.1. Complexities and Subtleties
8.3. Results: find and lose
8.4. [p*][lose][ppx*]: pronoun antecedents
8.4.1. Fuzzy construals with [p*][lose][ppx*]
8.5. [n*][lose][ppx*]: Nouns as antecedents for lose x-self
8.5.1. Fuzzy construals for [n*][lose][ppx*]
8.6. Compound Examples of Finding and Losing

9.1. Introduction
9.2. Method
9.2.1. Categorization Results
9.2.2. Onset of Awareness
9.2.3. Causative-type force
9.3. Results
9.3.1. Results for [p*][catch][ppx*]
9.4. [n*][catch][ppx*]
9.5. Fuzzy and other examples
9.6. Compound FIND/CATCH x-self
9.7. Chapter Conclusion

10.1. Introduction
10.2. Comparative analyses of SA verbs + x-self
10.3. find x-self and lose x-self; Opposites or Not?
10.4. perceive x-self
10.5. Other reflexive constructions




List of Tables

Tabqle 1. Non-other-directed and other-directed verbs

Table 2: find + the reflexive construction in the VDE

Table 3: lose with the reflexive construction in the VDE

Table 4. Results of most frequent 500 search for [v*][ppx*] and [find][ppx*]

Table 5. Results of expanded search (lemma n=3000) for [v*][ppx*] and [find][ppx*]

Table 6. Cross-corpora frequency ratios of [p*+findv+ ppx*], by pronoun and category

Table 7. Contingency table (integer values) for SA vs. SA-UE and fiction vs. non-fiction in the BNC

Table 8. COCA data for [n*][findv][ppx*]: Frequencies and ratios for SA and SA-UE- types for metonymically construed experiencers

Table 9. COCA search [n*][find][ppx*] : Frequencies and per million totals by register 125 Table 10. Frequencies of [n*][find][ppx*] according to tense and subject number

Table 11. COCA search [n*][find][ppx*]; metonymically construed antecedents, sorted by word

Table 12. BNC search [n*][find][ppx*]; metonymically construed antecedents, sorted by word

Table 13. Frequencies and ratios for losev, findv, lose x-self, and find x-self; COCA and BNC

Table 14. Frequencies and ratios for lose x-self and find x-self in the COCA and BNC

Table 15. Frequencies and frequency ratios (in parentheses) for [lose x-self]; COCA and BNC

Table 16. Frequencies of clause-final TSM and non-clause-final TSM for lose x-self; COCA and BNC

Table 17. [lose][ppx*] («=500, sorted by lemma), according to register; COCA and BNC

Table 18. Frequency and frequency per million of [p*][lose][ppx*] : COCA and BNC

Table 19. Frequency and Per Mil frequency of [n*][lose][ppx*] in the COCA and BNC

Table 20. COCA/BNC search [n*][find][ppx]; non-human nouns as antecedents

Table 21. Frequency ratios for [catch][ppx*] in the COCA & BNC according to semantic category and reflexive object pronoun

Table 22. Combined frequencies in the COCA and BNC for [p*][catch][ppx*]

Table 23. Frequencies of [p*][catch][ppx*] by register 179

Table 24. Category frequencies for [n*][catch][ppx*] 182

Table 25. Summary of categorizations and frequency ratios for metaphorically- construed find/catch/lose x-self 186

Table 26. Verbs from the category ‘Perception’ and metaphorical construal frequencies in the COCA corpus (n=100, random sample of each verb) 188

Table 27. Ratio comparisons of reflexive find-catch, lose-immerse, and catch-check 193

Table 28. Ratio comparisons offind-catch, lose-immerse, and catch-check 193

Table 29. Ratio comparisons of reflexive find ppx* and catch ppx* 193

Table 30. Ratio comparisons of reflexive lose ppx* and immerse ppx* 194

Table 31. Ratio comparisons of reflexive catch ppx* and check ppx* 195

Table 32. Summary of conceptual variation for perceptually-related verbs when occurring within the reflexive construction (combined totals for the COCA and BNC, excluding categories ‘X’ and ‘?’)) 202

List of Figures

Figure 1: SA-Inclusive Transitivity Scale

Figure 2. Primary Scene: Becoming aware by seeing

Figure 3. Primary Scene: The onset of Self-Awareness

Figure 4. FIND-CAT-MAN, according to Langacker

Figure 5. Schematic representation of ‘non-search’ FIND in The man found the cat

Figure 6. Schematic CG-type representation of The man lost the cat

Figure 7. CG models comparing simple Subjective event and SA event with FIND

Figure 8. Maximally egocentric construal of the SA event Ifound myself

Figure 9. CG model for I lost myself in the world of imagination

Figure 10: ‘Metonymy within metaphor’ mapping of SA events

Figure 11: Frequency ratios for all semantic categories in the COCA & BNC

Figure 12: Frequency ratios of [pro+find+x-self] according to semantic category

Figure 13. Frequency ratios for [lose][ppx*] by category in the COCA and BNC

Figure 14. COCA frequency ratios for lose x-self by pronoun for all semantic categories

Figure 15. BNC frequency ratios for lose x-self by pronoun for all semantic categories

Figure 16. Frequency results in the COCA and BNC for [p*][lose][ppx*] by pronoun for each category 155

Figure 17. Frequencies of categories for [n*][lose][ppx*] in the COCA and BNC 160

Figure 18. Primary Scene: The onset of Self-Awareness

Figure 19. Frequencies of SA and DSC categories according to pronoun 179

Figure 20. Cross-corpora frequencies of past and present tense, by pronoun, for [p*] [catch] [ppx*] 179

List of Appendices

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4

Appendix 5

Appendix 6

Appendix 7

Appendix 8

Appendix 9

Appendix 10

Appendix 11

Appendix 12


Part I: Self-Aware Events and Reflexives

Chapter 1: Reflexives and Self-Awareness

1.1 Introduction

Dave Dahl, the owner and creator of Dave’s Killer Bread, spent some time in prison where he did a fair amount of self-contemplation. In the quotation below, taken from the bread package label, Dave uses reflexive pronouns to convey his introspection and the insights he’s gained from it.

...15 years in prison is a pretty tough way to find oneself, but I have no regrets. This time around, I took advantage of all those long and lonely days by practicing my guitar, exercising, and getting to know myself - without drugs... It’s been said adversity introduces a man to himself and I found this to be true... A whole lot of suffering has transformed an ex-con into an honest man who is doing his best to make the world a better place. One loaf of bread at a time (Dave Dahl, label on “Dave’s Killer Bread”).

What does the phrase find oneself mean and how do we know this? Does a person find oneself in the same way one finds a coin on the sidewalk? Why is the metaphor of find used and not some other verb, as in the next sentence, ..getting to know myself, an expression famously used by Socrates for introspection, “Oh man, know thyself and thou shall know the Universe of the Gods!” Furthermore, the abstract noun adversity in the final example takes the place of a human agent that can perform introductions, i.e., introduce a man to himself This phrase is used metaphorically, but how do the individual components of the phrase allow for a Self-Aware1 meaning? Does the meaning offound in the conjoined clause in line four have the same meaning as find in line one?

In the investigation that follows, it will be seen that the underlying conceptual commonality of these instances is Self-Awareness, not simply in reference to a speaker’s self­knowledge, but an acute meta-awareness of one’s state or situation. Although phrases such as know myself have been around for a long time, there are other verbs which, when used metaphorically within in a reflexive construction, also refer to this type of Self-Awareness. Previous syntactic and semantic descriptions of English reflexivity have failed to adequately account for this conception, predicated by way of a metaphorically extended verb + reflexive 'x-self2.

The following discussion focuses on examples such as:

1. I found myselfmissing her more every day.
2. They lost themselves in the music.
3. Tom caught himself giggling during the meeting.

Particularly conspicuous is the metaphoricity which will be shown to be the result of an underlying conception of the ‘emergence or loss of Self-Awareness’ (hereafter SA). Examples such as those above are marked reflexive and contain transitive verbs but will be shown to differ in fundamental ways from prototypical transitive and reflexive events. Furthermore, these examples differ from other metaphorical senses of reflexives such as:

4. He asked himself a question.
5. Jenny made herself finish the workout.
6. Jack baked himself on the beach.

In the above examples, there are salient, identifiable Objects (differing in their semantic roles, see Chapter 2). In (4), one part of the mind asks another part of the mind a question (this may also be literally acceptable, as one may actually hear a question formed in the mind), in (5), one part of the mind forces or assumes control over another part, and in (6), the reflexive event refers to a meronymous relationship, understood as part of Jack’s body (the part of skin that was exposed to the sun) undergoing sunburn. Compared to examples (4-6), the concreteness of the Objects in the SA events (1-3) seem ambiguous. An attempt is made below to show that these events refer to the realization of some mental or physical meta-perception that can be uniquely identified, i.e., Self-Awareness. Specifically, this research addresses the following questions: 1) How is Self-Awareness expressed through the reflexive-metaphorical

constructions? and 2) Can the construal and predication of SA events be semantically delineated and categorized?

Discussion of these questions will bring to light a previously neglected phenomenon and show that SA events are a nontrivial semantic subcategory of reflexive events in English. The following discussion in Part I proceeds in Section 1.2 by investigating lexical issues related to defining the meaning of three verbs appearing in SA events. In Section 1.3, various definitions of reflexivity will be discussed. It will be shown that in addition to a syntactic interpretation, a semantic component is necessary to account for SA events.

Dealing specifically with the semantic representation of the reflexive event, Chapter 2 explores the notions of expectation, valency and transitivity. In section 2.1, a semantic description of reflexivity in terms of the expectation of a distinct Object Participant will be seen beneficial when delineating the general function of the reflexive event. Verbs that license two separate and unique participants are prototypical and expected. When two participants are the same entity however (contrary to expectation), the need for clarification arises. The reflexive pronoun functions as such a clarification marker.

In section 2.2 the concept of valency will be discussed and also shown to have explanatory value for SA events. Viewing reflexive events from a valency perspective provides leeway for semantic idiosyncracies of reflexive events, SA events being one example of this. Section 2.3 explores the notion of transitivity as a non-binary phenomenon. Although structurally transitive, SA events will be shown to be conceived and construed as less transitive than prototypical reflexives but more transitive than prototypical middle and intransitive events, based on the inherent components of emergence of event action and the degree of participant distinction.

Chapter 3 presents a summary of the discussion of SA events and charts future steps in the research.

1.2 Lexical and Grammatical Definitions

It is common knowledge that meanings of individual lexical items vary and may function differently in different environments, “...we need only to glance at a good grammar or dictionary of a language or think about the languages we know to see that this is the way languages operate. Polysemy is a pervasive property of human language, not just in the lexical domain but also in grammar” (Kemmer 1993:5). In this section, the verbs occurring in reflexive events will be delineated and shown to vary greatly in their description and meaning. It is onlywhen SA is proposed as a unifying conception that semantic anomalies can be uniformly explained.

1.2.1 Find x-self

The present discussion begins with the verb find in the corpus-based Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online3. Twenty-one different instances were listed. The verb find is categorized as a transitive verb (see Chapter 2 for a discussion of transitivity). The first definition is: ‘ get by searching - to discover, see, or get something that you have been searching for’. The first two examples for this definition are:

7. I can't find the car keys.
8. Hold on while I find a pen. (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 2014)

Particularly noticeable is the semantic incongruence between the definition and the examples. In both (7) and (8), the car keys and a pen have not yet been obtained by the act of searching, and therefore the definition, ‘get something by searching’ does not accurately describe this conception. The definition could be changed to fit the examples, i.e. to search for something, or vice-versa, i.e., choosing appropriate examples to fit the definition, i.e., I found the car keys or Ifound a pen. Two more examples in the LDOCE are listed under this definition and properly account for the conception of ‘get by searching’:

9. Her body was later found hidden in the bushes.
10. She had almost given up hope of finding a husband. (ibid.)

In (9-10), the sought-after items had been obtained, and therefore the definition is supported. It might also be noticed that there is a tense/aspect difference in the two sets of examples. Because variation in meaning here is based on a predictable grammatical pattern, it is plausible that this definition be distinguished from the first; 1) the atelic (uncompleted) sense of searching for, i.e., the present tense in examples (7-8) or future, e.g., I’ll find it later, and 2) the sense of get by searching for telic (completed) events, as in (9-10). The present motivation of this research is not to make a final determination for these cases but to direct attention to the complexity involved when such decisions need to be made.

The second definition in the LDOCE states: ‘ see by chance - to discover something by chance, especially something useful or interesting’. Two example sentences are given:

11. I found a purse in the street.
12. We found a nice pub near the hotel. (ibid.)

Example (11) supports the definition, but (12) may not, depending on whether the people who had found the pub were actually searching for a pub or just happened upon it as they strolled through the streets. This is conceptually ambiguous in this example. The key concept discerning these two possibilities is intent. In (11), finding a purse in the street is typically a happenstance event, not something that one exerts effort to make occur, thus there is no intent on the part of the Agent/Experiencer. This same lack of intent accounts for the sense of accidentally finding a pub in (12), but not if the Agents/Experiencers went searching for a pub and subsequently arrived at one, the conception from the first description of ‘get by searching’.

Definition number four of the LDOCE is: ‘do something without meaning to - to be in a particular state or do a particular thing, or to realize that this is happening, especially when you did not expect or intend it’. The example provided is:

13. After wandering around, we found ourselves back at the hotel. (ibid.)

In definition two above, it was shown that the ambiguity offind was based on the concept of lack of intent. Examining the sub-category listed under definition four here may help clarify this issue: ‘find yourself/your mind etc. doing something’. Two examples are provided:

14. When he left, Karen found herself heaving a huge sigh of relief.
15. She tried to concentrate, but found her mind drifting back to Alex. (ibid.)

We see again here a lack of intent semantically motivating the definition. In (14-15), something that was not intended or expected had occurred, sighing in relief and thinking of Alex, respectively. The conception of intent/expectation can be seen more clearly when compared with examples that do not include find but other sensory perception verbs such as:

16. When he left, Karen _ felt (saw, heard) herself heaving a huge sigh of relief.

Comparing the above, example (16) expresses no conceived intent or expectation. There is a complete absence of this conception even if metaphorically extending the senses of see and hear. In other words, Karen was simply aware of her physical or mental sensations in response to the stimulus of his leaving. In example (14), however, lack of intent or expectation seems to motivate the construal and choice of the verb find, which includes these qualities in its underlying semantics. In other words, Karen was not only aware of the physical sensations brought about by the stimulus of his leaving but was surprised by her own response to that sensation, in other words, there was an emergence of meta-perceptual Self-Awareness.

There is one more SA-related definition of find in the LDOCE that requires consideration. This is description number 16: ‘find yourself, ‘informal’ - to discover what you are really like and what you want to do - often used humorously’. The solitary example is:

17. She went to India to find herself.

Here, the discovery of some deep self-knowledge is evident. This sense is different from those above and there is no concept correlating to intent/expectation. Intention/expectation may or may not be subsumed under the concept of discovery. One can intend to discover something and succeed (or fail), or one can discover something by accident without having had that specific intent. These examples are, therefore, conceptually ambiguous. If the above definitions offind are semantically related (and it may be assumed they are, see 1.2.1 below), we must look elsewhere for some unifying concept. Returning to the first definition given above (repeated here), a different concept contained within the definition may help to unify the definitions:

“do something without meaning to - to be in a particular state or do a particular thing, or to realize that this is happening, especially when you did not expect or intend it” (ibid.)

If a fundamental Self-Awareness is proposed as the unifying concept for find, all reflexive examples above can be accounted for, seen below by comparing all of the reflexive examples so far:

18. [13] After wandering around, we found ourselves back at the hotel.
19. [14] When he left, Karen found herself heaving a huge sigh of relief.

In (18), there is the realization/awareness of some spatial perception, in (19) a realization/awareness of some sensory perception, and in (20) the (possibility of) realization/awareness of one’s deeper Self. The consolidating notion here is not based on the perceptions themselves (physical/mental responses to stimuli) nor some intent/expectation to act, but a Self-Awareness of one’s state or experience brought about by some kind of perception.

In the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary (2008), a focus on self-aware perception is found in definition 5b: ‘To perceive oneself to be in a specified place or position, or condition of body or mind’. One fairly recent example from the 19th century is:

21. “We found ourselves opposed by a parapet of congealed snow.” (1823 F. Clissold, Narr. Ascent Mont Blanc 21) (ibid.)

In (21), it was not the actual wall of snow or the fact that their path was blocked by it that is the conceptual focus offound, but the awareness of that perceived situation. If the experience itself were the focus, more pragmatically and semantically economical examples such as (22) and (23) below would best suit that conception:

22. We were opposed by a parapet of congealed snow.
23. A parapet of congealed snow blocked our way.

The construal of this situation through the metaphorical extension of find within a reflexive construction points to the author’s motivation to convey the Agent/Experiencer’s Self­Awareness of the experience as the prominent conception.

The underlying conception of realization/awareness is further confirmed in the Collins English Dictionary Online (2014) under the definition find oneself (British English): “to realize and accept one's real character; discover one's true vocation”. Besides the seemingly ad hoc pairing of these definitions under the same heading, the examples below represent a different sense of the find oneself construal, again creating non-congruence between definition and examples. Only (25) displays congruency between definition and example:

24. "One is rather surprised to find oneselfmarginally on the outside of society. (Times, Sunday Times (2002))
25. A dark forest, as Dante noted, is a good place to get lost and to find oneself again. (Begg, Ean & Rich, Deike On the Trail of Merlin - a guide to the Celtic mystery tradition)
26. After an evening of Richard's company, it was easy to find oneselftalking like him. (Thomas, Rosie The White Dove)
27. In a way, an ability to remember only good things about one's past seems rather a benign state in which to find oneself. (Times, Sunday Times (2002)) (ibid.)

1.2.2 Lose x-self

If Self-Awareness is the conceptual motivation for SA events, it must be tested with other SA candidate verbs. Examining the verb lose in the LDOCE (2014), the only definition directly related to reflexive use is 15: ‘lose yourself in something--to be paying so much attention to something that you do not notice anything else’:

28. She listened intently to the music, losing herself in its beauty.

As with find above, the meaning of lose is metaphorical, i.e., lose oneself in the music does not have the same meaning as the literal ‘lose oneself in a forest’. The central concept in (28) can be identified as ‘not notice anything else’. To 'not notice' is to have no perception of it, i.e., to be unaware of it. But what does it mean to be unaware of oneself? It is proposed here that the metaphorical sense of lose refers to the (temporary) loss of Self-Awareness, i.e., the loss of the perception of one’s physical and mental sensations. In some cases, the terms ‘consciousness’ and ‘awareness’ may be (nearly) synonymous, for example, I found myself knocking on her door (i.e., I was aware/conscious of my knuckles rapping on her door). However, this synonymy is incongruous with the metaphorical construal of lose oneself To ‘lose awareness’ is not synonymous with ‘lose consciousness’ for SA events. The former is a typically psychological state and the latter a physiological one, as seen by the LDOCE example: "By the time the ambulance arrived, Douglas had lost consciousness"4 This loss of awareness of perceptual states can be clarified further by comparing other metaphorical entries for lose in the LDOCE: “lose one's appetite, lose heart, lose face, lose your mind”, etc. (ibid.) Each of these refers to the loss of some particular sensory or mental/psychological perception. SA events, on the other hand, refer to an independent meta-perception, distinct from any particular physical sensory or mental/psychological perception. SA events refer to the awareness of sensations, not the sensations themselves. Loss of that awareness can then be construed and predicated through sentences such as (28).

In the OEDO, definition 10 contains two related sub-entries: ‘To lose one’s (or its) identity; to become merged (in something else)’, and ‘To become deeply absorbed or engrossed (in thought, etc.); to be bewildered, overwhelmed (in wonder); to be distracted, lose one’s wits (from emotion or excitement)’ (2008). The only reflexive example from the first sense with a human5 Agent/Experiencer is:

29. I love to lose myself in other men's minds.

(1822 C. LAMB Detached Thoughts on Bks. in Elia 2nd Ser.)

And four examples under the second sense:

30. These strong Egyptian Fetters I must breake, Or loose my selfe in dotage. (a1616 Shakespeare Antony & Cleopatra (1623) I.ii. 110)
31. I almost lose my selfe In joy to meete him. (1639 J. Shirley Maides Revenge IV.sig.G2v)
32. As I pace the darkened chamber and lose myself in melancholy musings... (1809 ‘D. Knickerbocker’ Hist.N.Y.I.II.V.109)
33. Her voice was low at first, but she soon lost herself, and then it rose above

the other voices. (1890 T.H. Hall Caine Bondman (ibid.)

We can recover the focal concept of Self-Awareness from all examples. The loss of the Self­Awareness drives the conception and subsequently its construal and predication. It is the perceived objects (i.e., other men’s minds, dotage, joy, melancholy, bashfulness) of which the Agent/Experiencers are completely and totally aware. The Agent/Experiencers’ meta­perception of these things have been temporarily suspended, i.e., loss of Self-Awareness. This can be tested by comparing minimal pairs:

34. a. I lost myself in the music. (non-meronymous, loss of SA) ? b. I lost my dotage/joy/melancholy/bashfulness in the music. (meronymous, non-SA)
35. a. Jack lost himself in thoughts of her. (non-meronymous, loss of SA) ? b. Jack lost his thoughts of her. (meronymous, non-SA)

The (a) and (b) examples above have very different conceptions. Only the (a) examples reflect the SA conception while the admittedly borderline (b) examples refer to some part-whole relationship with the perceptual physical-mental Self. As stated above, Self-Awareness as a meta-perceptive state is proposed to be the core, focal conception and construal of SA events.

1.2.3 Catch x-self

Another verb that appears in SA events, catch x-self, is discussed below. Definition 24 of the LDOCE (2014) states: ‘catch yourself doing something, to suddenly realize you are doing something’:

36. Standing there listening to the song, he caught himself smiling from ear to ear.

The meta-perception of one’s experience is consistent with that of the definition of SA described above. The physical act of smiling ear to ear is not itself the conceptual focus here; it is the awareness of that large smile. This can be compared to an example where direct perception is the focus, as below:

37. Standing there listening to the song, he felt himself smiling from ear to ear.

Another definition concerning SA is: ‘To check, interrupt in speaking’. Two examples are given:

38. Not that I do (he presently caught himself) in the least confess, etc. (1670, C Cotton tr. G. Girard Hist. Life Duke of Espernon III.xii.623)
39. Saying on Day thus...he immediately catch’d himself, and fell into this Reflection. (a1726 W. Penn WKS.I.App.233) (ibid.)

Examples (40) and (41) also demonstrate SA events, employing the metaphorical sense of the verb catch to express meta-perceptive Self-Awareness that is gained in the middle of a speech act. Not only speech acts but other vocalizations such as laughing, giggling, etc. and certain physical, mainly involuntary movements such as twitching, wincing, cringing, etc. are used for SA construal.

40. Shelly caught herself laughing even on this sad day.
41. Sam caught himself cringing at the notion of another transfer.
42. The lawyer caught herself snickering in front of the judge.

In all cases, Awareness of a vocalization or physicality is construed and expressed by way of the metaphorical sense of the verb catch and used within a reflexive event. This type of event, as explained for find, lose and catch is coined Self-Aware (SA) event.

1.3 Grammatical Definitions

The complexities of delineating lexical senses in relation to SA events have been considered above. Defining the immediate grammatical environment of SA events, i.e., the reflexive construction, is just as complex. The functions of the reflexive construction, according to the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English, are fourfold: “marking co-reference with the subject, alternating with personal pronouns, marking emphatic identity, and empty reflexives” (1999:342-345). ‘Marking coreference’ is the only function considered here as it is the only environment in which proposed SA events occur. The others, although bundled together under the reflexive category, will not be examined except when necessary to contrast syntactic and semantic environments of SA events (see Section 1.4 below).

Considered first are descriptions of the reflexive pronoun. “In their purely reflexive use, these pronouns mark identity with the referent of the preceding noun phrase within the same clause, usually in subject position. The reflexive pronoun carries a different syntactic role; it is typically an object or complement in a prepositional phrase” (Biber et al. 1999: 342). In this description, reflexive antecedents relate and mark coreference with another noun and reflexive pronouns hold an object (or complement) relation in the phrase. Various descriptions in which the reflexive pronoun is ‘used as object’ appear in the literature. “You use a reflexive pronoun to make it clear that the object of a verb is the same person or thing as the subject of the verb, or to emphasize this.. .(Collins Cobuild English Grammar 2011) This explanation is similar to that given below by Faltz:

The subject and object noun phrases are coreferent if and only if the object noun phrase consists of one of the words myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, oneself, or themselves. The presence of these reflexive pronouns in object position to mark coreference with the subject constitutes the primary reflexive strategy for English (1985: 4).

Thus, there is a syntactic entity called subject and a syntactic entity called object. Reflexive pronouns signal that these are the same entity. This seems straightforward; however, the semantics of the predicate often affect the nominals with which they are aligned. These cases have revealed the necessity to account for the semantics of the verb together with its nominals in descriptions of reflexivization. Following this, Gast and Siemund define reflexivity as, " .the co-indexation of two argument positions of a transitive predicate..." (2006: 346). As stated above, syntactic definitions traditionally tethered the coreferent nominals to each other without regard for the verb. But Gast and Siemund’s definition considers the function of the verb in relation to its nominals, or more precisely, the whole predicate.

The restriction on the transivity of the verb seems logical enough given that two nominals are needed to co-refer. Konig and Gast suggest the following definition: “Reflexive pronouns (anaphors) are self-forms used in order to indicate that a semantic or syntactic argument of a predicate is co-referenced with another argument of the same predicate (co­argument), typically with the subject. This co-argument is called the antecedent of the reflexive pronoun” (2002: 4). They make a careful and detailed argument for incorporating a semantic component into the definition of reflexivity, mainly to distinguish ‘true’ reflexives from polysemous intensifying and logophoric -self meanings.

Thus, in order to distinguish the different functions and environments in which reflexive pronouns occur, a definition that covers its semantic function is necessary. Without this semantic aspect, it is very difficult to account for predications where the semantics of the verb directly affects the whole structure of a phrase. Lange helps clarify and strengthen this claim:

.by extending the definition of reflexivity to include both syntactic and semantic arguments of predicates, examples like the following are also covered: (3.16) John considers himself to be the perfect candidate. (3.17) Suddenly I found myself in a large cave. Excluded from the class of reflexive anaphors are then all intensifying uses of x- SELF as well as 'logophoric' or 'untriggered' SELF-forms... (2007: 37).

Although Lange uses sentence (3.17) to make an argument for the necessity of a semantic definition of x-self to differentiate the various functions of the reflexive, it is also necessary in order to distinguish SA events from other reflexive sense types. A strictly syntactic definition cannot account for the different meanings (3.17) could assume, shown below in (a-c):

(3.17) Suddenly I found myself in a large cave.

a. I suddenly realized that I was in a cave. (SA event)
b. I suddenly realized my true, deeper self in a cave. (True-Self event (Lakoff 1992))
c. I found a mannequin (or other physical entity made to look like me) of myself in a cave.

Accounting for SA events necessitates a precise definition of reflexive argument relations and their semantic functions. At the risk of repetitiveness, simply stating that (3.17) above and examples 43-45 below are reflexive (inasmuch as they fulfill the syntactic requirements for such) does not address their different functions and meanings.

43. John made himself a tuna sandwich.
44. John made himself go to the gym.
45. John made himself completely invisible.

In (43-45), the reflexive pronouns, or semantic Object Pronouns (Geniusiene 1987) represent three different semantic roles; in (43), Recipient or Beneficiary (the ‘receiver’ of an action or event), in (44), Content (“the second role in verbs of perception and mental activity” or Patient (the affected entity of a caused event), and in (45), Patient (ibid.: 40). These distinctions are crucial for an accurate description of SA events as contrasted to other literal and metaphorical reflexive events and are discussed in more detail in the next chapter.

Ambiguity within the reflexive construction may be due to polysemous morphological components representing differing semantic conceptions and functions. The ramification of this is to understand that boundaries (if any) between conception and formal representation are malleable. Dictionary definitions provide clues to lexical conception but may contain descriptive inconsistencies and gaps in data, especially when meaning in use is a consideration. The SA event verbs find, lose, and catch were shown to be such instances.

Chapter 2: Valency and Transitivity

2.1 Introduction

In Chapter 1, Self-Awareness was proposed as the unifying concept for the metaphorical senses of find, lose and catch when used in the reflexive construction. In Chapter 2, focus on the semantics of the predicate will show that two factors play a crucial role in understanding reflexivity and the construal of SA events. The first, considered in section 2.1, is the distinction between ‘other-directed’ and ‘non-other-directed’ situations. Incorporated into the meaning of some verbs is whether or not its action is typically directed towards a Patient/Object. This will be seen to be a major determinant for choosing the reflexive strategy.

The second factor, considered in section 2.2, is that valency needs to be carefully identified and categorized and that transitivity is necessarily viewed as a gradient phenomenon. Working with notions of valency and transitivity entail examining the relationship of verbs along with their associated participants. Reflexive events in English are shown to be prototypically transitive but may also occur non-prototypically, closer to intransitive and middle events. It is within this non-prototypical environment that SA events are to be found.

Section 2.3 includes a discussion of middle events and their relation to reflexive and SA events. Participant distinguishability and quality of action are two precise semantic sub­components that are delineated and revealed to be the main components that help in the accurate description of SA events.

The conclusion drawn in Chapter 2 is that SA events are construed as low-transitive reflexive events occurring between middle and reflexive events on the transitivity continuum. Furthermore, distinction of participants and quality of action of SA events are especially critical in demarcating SA events from other reflexive and middle events.

2.2 Other-directed vs. non-other-directed events

The notion of ‘other-directedness’ has been proposed as the underlying motivation for prototypical transitive events because the interlocuter expects the action of the verb to affect a Patient that is a separate entity from the Agent (Hopper & Thompson 1980; Kemmer 1993; Konig & Gast 2002; Konig & Siemund 2000a; Konig & Vezzosi 2004; Lange 2007). The definition of ‘prototypical transitive event’ used in this discussion concurs with that of Rice:

Two entities, which are usually conceived of as being asymmetrically related, are involved in some activity; the interaction between them is unidirectional; because there is movement and effect, contact between the two entities is presumed to take place, with the second entity being directly affected by the contact instigated by the first; finally, the entities are taken to be distinct from each other, from their locale or setting, and from the speaker/observer/conceptualizer (2011:423).

The reflexive event, on the other hand, is used to signal that the action of the typically unidirectional (i.e., other-directed) event is directed towards the same originating entity of the action, contrary to expectation. This non-prototypicality and unexpectedness has been described as the motivation for the use of the English reflexive pronoun (Beck 2006; Faltz 1985; Kemmer 1993; Konig & Siemund 2000b; Konig & Vezzosi 2004; Lange 2007, 2011; Peitsara 1997) “Non-other-directed” (i.e., self-directed), on the other hand, refers to events that are expected to have only one participant (semantic Subject), such as intransitive events. Only one participant is involved in the action, and the same entity that causes the action is also the affected entity of that action.

46. Sally squashed the cockroach under her heel.
47. The doctors swam for charity.
48. *The doctors swam themselves for charity.
49. Ted forced himself to finish the tea.

In (46), the verb squash is prototypically transitive, requiring an entity that initiates the ‘squashing’ and a separate entity that receives the ‘squashing’. In (47), a prototypically intransitive event, there is only one entity involved in the action, with the origination and goal of the action being congruent. As such, the reflexive, which also signals this congruency, is unnecessary and inappropriate, as in (48). In (49), as in (46), the prototypically affected entity of the action is expected to be a separate entity, however, it is not. The reflexive pronoun signals coreference of the initiating and affected entities. Use of the simple personal pronoun results in an inappropriate reference to some other second entity, i.e., Tedx squashed himy between the walls. The reflexive pronoun is used to mark the unexpected coreferentiality of the participants in the event, i.e., Tedx squashedhimselfx between the walls. This notion of ‘expectedness’ was the motivation for the morphological merger of ‘personal pronoun + self’:

Without SELF, the more likely interpretation of the sentence would be that subject NP and pronouns are disjoint. By intensifying the pronoun, SELF indicates that the referent designated by the pronoun is central, thereby reversing the expected prototypical transitive structure with two participants where an agent acts upon a patient...SELF signals that subject and object have the same referent.. (Lange, 2007:57).

Whether verbs instantiate two separate participants of an event or one is illustrated in Table 1. The sub-categories listed under the non-other-directed situations generally include intransitive verbs and those verbs that take the middle voice. Examples for each of these categories are; grooming, e.g. John shaved; preparing & protecting, e.g. Jack was ready; defending & liberating, e.g. Jane was free; and pride/shame, e.g. Jessica was proud/ashamed. Examples for other-directed situations are: violent actions, e.g. John killed him; emotions, e.g. John loves Mary; communicating, e.g. John told him to write; and jealousy/anger/pleasure, e.g. Mary was jealous of John, John was angry with Mary, and John was pleased with Mary.

Table 1. Non-other-directed and other-directed verbs (Konig & Siemund, 2000: 61)

Abbildung in dieer Leseprobe nicht enthalten

If we apply the concept of ‘unexpectedness of the coreferent entities’ onto the sub­category of verbs listed under other-directed situations in Table 1, sentences such as those below are predicated:

50. Johnx killed himy(selfx).
51. Johnx loves himy(selfx).
52. ? Johnx told himy(selfx,y) to write.
53. *? Maryx is jealous of hery(selfx,y).
54. Johnx is angry with himy(selfx).
55. Johnx is pleased with himy(selfy).

Two sentences raise questions of well-formedness when the reflexive test is performed. Examples (52) and (53) are acceptable if the events are construed metaphorically, but the reflexive pronoun in (53) is only acceptable in cases where someone or something (an actress or wax figure) is representing Mary and the ‘real Mary’ is jealous of that representation. However, even though the reflexive pronoun is employed, it can be argued that this is not a true case of coreferentiality because two separate physical entities are manifest and therefore the direction of the action is unidirectional, i.e., a prototypical transitive event. Nevertheless, in all cases the reflexive marker signals events that are prototypically expected to be other-directed but have that expectation quashed by being construed as non-other-directed.

‘Non-other-directed’ events are those in which the verbs usually occur with only the affected semantic Subject (which is semantically indistinguishable from the Agent in English but may be aligned with the Patient in Ergative languages (Bowers 2002; Comrie 1989; Dixon & Aikhenval'd 2000)). So, for example, grooming verbs include sentences such as:

56. Eric shaved.
57. Ryan washed.
58. Jessica bathed.

In these cases, the Agent and (unrealized) Patient are expected to be one and the same entity; therefore, no reflexive strategy (nor overt Object/Patient) is required. Logically, if we expect these verbs to be non-other-directed, the contrary unexpected situation should be that which is other-directed. This is the case, seen in the following:

59. Eric shaved his brother.
60. Ryan washed his sister’s face.
61. Jessica bathed her little brothers.

Although in English these are not marked (i.e., zero-marking), they are semantically and pragmatically atypical, construing events in which the Object/Patient has very little control over his/her own actions and in which their typically pragmatic Agency has been essentially undone. Another unexpected, non-other-directed event may also take place, i.e., the reflexive event:

62. Eric shaved himself.
63. Ryan washed himself.

In these examples, due to some pragmatically extraordinary circumstances (such as incapacity, unwillingness, social inconformity, etc.), the Subject could not or did not previously perform the action, thus, its sudden performance is unexpected.

There are difficulties in English when applying this broad non-other-directed category to many verbs, however. Many of the grooming verbs are meronymous and require a body-part Object to be overtly realized:

65. a. Cathy brushed her hair/teeth. b. *Cathy brushed.
66. a. Leslie combed his hair/moustache/beard. b. *Leslie combed.

Difficulties also arise with other subcategories:

67. preparing and protecting:

a. Henry prepared (for) dinner.
b. *Henry prepared.
c. Henry protected (the children, himself).
d. *Henry protected.

68. defending and liberating:

a. They defended (their house, themselves) against their enemies.
b. *They defended.
c. The prisoners liberated (themselves) from their captives.
d. *The prisoners liberated.

Examples (65-68) are subsumed under the non-other-directed category and therefore prototypical predications should be zero-marked (in English) when the action refers to the Subject. Contrarily, some type of Object is necessary to form acceptable sentences. Resolution of this particular issue is adjunct to the present discussion (see section 2.3); however, a focus on SA events in (69-71) shows that the other-directed vs. non-other-directed conception accurately accounts for typical reflexive events. In other words, use of the reflexive pronoun signals an unexpected, non-other-directed action of the verb from the initiator to the recipient and that these are one and the same entity:

69. I found myself craving more and more chocolate.
70. Frank lost himself in the drama of Amy’s love life.
71. I caught myself daydreaming again.

The semantics of prototypical reflexive events is preserved here, i.e., the reflexive pronoun marks an unexpected, non-other-directed construal. Being so, they fall under the prototypical transitive construction licensing two participants, an Agent and a Patient; atypically, however, these are the same entity. The simplicity of the theory of unexpectedness and other-directed events is appealing; however, SA events will be shown below to be much subtler than this notion alone can handle.

2.3 Valency & Transitivity

In section 2.1, the unexpectedness of coreference of an inherently other-directed verb was a significant motivating factor for the reflexive event. There is a different facet to this verb- participant relationship, however, that necessitates investigation. Focusing specific attention on a predicate’s participant number(s) and semantic role(s) uncovers important insights into reflexive (including SA) events. A verb’s inherent ability to license a certain number of participants is termed valency. The term transitivity refers to the descriptive categories to which those participants lend themselves. This section will investigate how the reflexive event is described with respect to these notions.

2.3.1 Valency

Defining the parameters of valency, Martin concisely summarizes:

A verb like rain, which has no referential noun phrases associated with it, is said to be zero-place or avalent; a verb like disappear, which takes only a subject argument, is said to be one-place or monovalent; verbs like devour and give are said to be two- place (bivalent) and three-place (trivalent), respectively (2000: 375).

The description above is the widely accepted notion of linguistic valency, albeit expressed in various ways in the literature (Comrie 1989; Herbst 2007; Herbst & Gotz-Votteler 2007; Kalinina, Kolomatsky, & Sudobina 2006; Matthews 2007; Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, & Svartvik 1985). Their affinity lies in the inherent lexical property of each verb to license a specific, limited number of participants. This lexical idiosyncrasy creates difficulties for minimalist and typology researchers hoping to reveal over-arching mechanisms that account for syntactic and/or semantic data. Because the valency of each individual verb is different, it is difficult to generalize over a wide syntactic or semantic arena. Herbst states, "...valency is definitely one of the more messy aspects of language. Although nobody will deny that certain general tendencies are also at work. The amount of idiosyncratic word specific knowledge that is involved is considerable" (2007: 27). One of the most ambitious projects that attempted to record this vast amount of information for practical use is A Valency Dictionary of English (VDE) (Herbst, Heath, Roe, & Gotz 2004), a corpus-based dictionary6 providing information about participant numbers, collocations and the patterning of semantic roles of verbs.7 Valency and SA event verbs

The VDE entry for find lists four separate senses: ‘discover’, ‘judge’, ‘consider’ and ‘unexpected situation’. The reflexive pattern appears only with Sense D, UNEXPECTED SITUATION, noted as, “A person can find themselves doing something or being in a particular situation, i.e., doing something they had not expected” (ibid: 314). This independent, corpus- based result strengthens the claim above (section 2.1) that the notion of unexpectedness is a pragmatic/semantic motivator for the reflexive marker. Considering specific coverage of reflexive events in Table 2, the verb find used with the reflexive object pronoun is described as having one Sense (D, UNEXPECTED SITUATION) occurring with four different valency patterns (T1, T2, T4, T6). The item’s Sense is further delineated as to whether the constructions are active or passive as well as the number of minimum/maximum valency complements the verb can license (in this case, 3/3). The obligatory (obl) complement sense categorization (II) precedes the specific use (REFL PRON). The reflexive pronoun is shown in four different patterns: two with a noun (+ N), one with a verb in its -ing form (+ V-ing), and one with an adverbial (+ ADV). Specific corpus examples are provided for each pattern.

Table 2. find + the reflexive construction in the VDE (Herbst et al. 2004: 312-314)

Abbildung in dieer Leseprobe nicht enthalten8

The insight that can be drawn from this data is the transparency to which reflexive events with the verb find are predicated through distinct patterns and are construed under one main sense, UNEXPECTED SITUATION. However insightful and useful this data is for a variety of research avenues, it is not without drawbacks for the present discussion. Besides the given Sense UNEXPECTED SITUATION applying to all reflexive pronouns (seen above in section 2.1), the two example sentences in Table 2 (T4 and T6), determined extraneous to the Sense, need to be accounted for. This can be provided by proposing Self-Awareness as the main Sense for all examples, i.e., [find + REFL PRON + N/ V-ing/ ADV]. All data may then be considered inclusive of the defining Sense. Taking the VDE examples from Table 2 above:

72. Durell found himself an exile amongst exiles.
73. Susan, about to refuse, found herself tempted.
74. I found myself, inexplicably, liking him.
75. Their lack of education compared to men limits their opportunities, and they most often find themselves holding marginal jobs.
76. Alderson found himself out of a job.
77. We followed his directions to find ourselves on the steps of one of the royal palaces.

Instead of establishing the Sense UNEXPECTED SITUATION for these examples to the exclusion of (75) and (77), SA is proposed as the agglutinating conceptual Sense. The meta-perceptive, Self-Aware conception of the SA event is construed and predicated metaphorically as finding someone, somewhere, who is doing, thinking or feeling something. In (72), the meaning of Durell found himself in exile is ‘Durell is aware of himself being in exile’. In (73), Susan found herself tempted means that ‘Susan is aware of herself being tempted’. I found myself liking him, in (74), conveys the meaning ‘I am aware of myself liking him’. In (75), they find themselves holding marginal jobs can be comparably expressed as ‘They are aware of themselves holding marginal jobs’. Example (76) means Alderson is aware of himself not having a job, and finally, (77) can be rephrased as, ‘We are aware of ourselves being on the steps.. .palaces’. Establishing Self-Awareness as the Sense foundation for the metaphorical use of find in a reflexive event allows an all-inclusive categorization of the data. Depending on the details of each pragmatic situation, one of the above three valency patterns in Table 2 will then be predicated. This does not mean that UNEXPECTED SITUATION is not a valid conceptual notion. Its validity is attributed to the higher-order semantic category associated with the reflexive event in general (as per section 2.1), not specific to any one verb or its valency. It is, therefore, unable to account for much idiosyncratic data, SA events in particular.

More support for this claim can be seen when considering another SA event, lose x- self as (see Table 3). For the reflexive Sense III, the second example is categorized as extraneous to the sense meaning. “The basic meaning of lose can be described as ‘no longer having something’ or as ‘not gaining something’” (ibid: 505). Delineating [lose + REFL PRON + N/ V-ing] as SA event eliminates the need to exclude the second example, thus encompassing more data. In the case of lose, however, it is not the emergence of Self-Awareness but the temporary lack of Self-Awareness that is construed. This loss may occur for reasons such as intense concentration, intense emotional reaction, illness/injury, chemical toxicity (intentional or not), etc. The two examples from Table 3 may be rephrased as, ‘She was unaware of her other sense perceptions when reading literature’ and ‘I want your help to be unaware of my everyday self when loving you and others’. The SA event as an explicit conception allows for the second, previously excluded example to be included. This evidence9 lends support to the proposal that SA is a distinct semantic event categorically subsumed within the reflexive event.

Table 3. lose with the reflexive construction in the VDE (ibid: 504-505)

Abbildung in dieer Leseprobe nicht enthalten

The use of corpus data to reveal valency patterns (along with their collocations) has provided a fast and accurate method for finding and analyzing recurring and polysemous complementation patterns previously overlooked. For this reason, as well as the insights gained from Cognitive and Corpus linguistic research, the concept of valency has become a recently rejuvenated topic of discussion (see: (Dixon & Aikhenval'd 2000; Herbst 2007; Herbst & Gotz- Votteler 2007; Herbst et al. 2004; Kulikov, Malchukov, & de Swart 2006). For the present moment, it can be stated that the reality of valency as a viable categorization strategy may prove valuable for delineating idiosyncracies in individual data while categorizing that same information into analyzable semantic categories.

Valency information reveals that verbs can be categorized by the number of participants they license. Specific focus on the functions of those participants is called transitivity. The reason for distinguishing notions of valency from transitivity can be seen below:

78. It rains.
79. *The sky/cloud rains.
80. ame ga futte-iru. Tains fallv-pres-cont
81. *sora/kumo ga ame wo fUtteiru sky/clouds raind.o. fallv -pres-cont

The verb rain in (78) is zero-valent; in other words, no entity is seen to be directly responsible for the raining action. The act of rain and similar examples do not, therefore, often appear in discussions of transitivity. Even though English marks for a syntactic Subject, adding a semantic S in (79) renders the construction unacceptable. Example (80) shows the participant­less status of an event like rain in Japanese as well. ‘Ame’ (rain) is a noun subject-marked with the particle ga. The verb ‘furu’ (fall) is expressed in its present continuous form ( verb stem + tte- iru). There is no need whatsoever for the presence of an initiator of the action of rain, and artificially adding one, as in (81), also renders the sentence unacceptable.

The ‘monovalent’ sits in (82) licenses one participant. This one participant is both the initiator and recipient of the event action or state. This intransitive event can be shown by the unacceptability of inserting another participant into the event action, as in (83).

82. Nancy sits.
83. *Nancy sits Harold/herself.10
84. Nancy pinched her(self) on the arm.
85. *Nancy pinched. / *Nancy pinched her the arm.
86. Nancy gave her(self) an injection on the arm.
87. *Nancy gave on the arm. / *Nancy gave her(self) on the arm.

Two participants (bivalent) are licensed for the verb pinch in (84), a causer or initiator of the event action or state (Agent/Experiencer) and a separate recipient of that event action or state (Patient). This type of event is termed ‘transitive’. When more/less than two participants are predicated, the sentences are deemed unacceptable, as in (85). Notice in the reflexive account in (84) that the same entity (Nancy, herself) is both the Agent and Patient ofpinch. The two are regarded here as (syntactically) separate entities11 even though this may seem counter-intuitive. The verb give in (86) is ‘ditransitive’, licensing three participants, the action initiator, the recipient of the action and the transferred object. Changing the number of participants is unacceptable, as in (87). Changing the semantic roles of the participants similarly affects the function of the whole argument, rendering the construction unacceptable. Therefore, even though valency and transitivity are related notions, their separation is necessary in order to distinguish subtleties between participant number and function.

2.3.2 Prototypical Transitive Events

The above descriptions of transitivity are broad generalizations and exceptions and idiosyncrasies are present, depending upon usage. Due to space considerations, however, a full account cannot be provided here (see:Allerton 2006; Comrie 1989; Dixon 2005; Faltz 1985; Frajzyngier & Curl 2000; Herbst & Gotz-Votteler 2007; Hopper & Thompson 1980; Kemmer 1993; Klaiman 1991; Konig & Gast 2008; Kulikov et al. 2006; Levin & Hovav 2005; N^ss 2007; Rice 2011). Although idiosyncrasies do occur, there are merits in postulating formulaic theories that attempt to capture general tendencies in the data. For transitivity, this has resulted in efforts to find the most common denominators in which to postulate a prototypical transitive event. Researchers have engaged in such an effort to define this ‘prototypical transitive’ notion (Bowers 2002; Comrie 1989; de Swart 2006; Hopper & Thompson 1980; Kalinina et al.,2006; Kemmer 1993; LaPolla 1996; N^ss 2007; Rice 2011; Rozas 2007). One description of the prototypical transitive (two-participant) event is by Kemmer, who states that “a prototypical two-participant event is defined as a verbal event in which a human entity (an Agent) acts volitionally, exerting physical force on an inanimate definite entity (a patient) which is directly and completely affected by that event” (1993: 50). This idea most likely originates from the description proposed by Hopper and Thompson,

- ...transitivity is traditionally understood as a global property of an entire clause, such that an activity is ‘carried-over’ or ‘transferred’ from an agent to a patient. Transitivity in the traditional view thus necessarily involves at least two participants. and an action which is typically EFFECTIVE in some way (1980: 251-253).

The two dimensions, ‘transferred action’ and ‘affectedness of patient’ seem to delineate the transitive event in general terms, but there are other dimensions to transitivity that have been proposed, one being ‘distinctness of participants’, i.e., to what extent each individual/separate participant is construed to be. This is posited by way of ‘The Maximally Distinct Arguments Hypothesis’: “A Prototypical transitive clause is one where the two participants are maximally semantically distinct in terms of their roles in the event described by the clause” (N^ss 2007: 30). This notion of distinctness of participants, whatever the wording, is often cited as a crucial concept of transitivity (Comrie 1989; de Swart 2006; Hopper & Thompson 1980; Kemmer 1993; Levin & Hovav 2005; Rice 2011).

Thus, there are certain semantic properties of a transitive event, i.e., ‘distinctness of participants’, ‘transfer of action’ and ‘affectedness of patient’ that are relevant to the fundamental notion of prototypical transitivity. One interesting quality of these properties is that they are thought to be non-binary, i.e., gradient (Bowers 2002; Comrie 1989; de Swart 2006; Dixon & Aikhenval'd 2000; Geniusiene 1987; Hopper & Thompson 1980; Kalinina et al. 2006; Kemmer 1993; LaPolla 1996; N^ss 2007; Rice 2011; Taylor 2003).

It has been recognised for quite some time that the concept of “transitivity” behaves like a prototype category...In other words, membership of the category “transitive verb” or “transitive clause” is gradable depending on an item’s degree of similarity to a central exemplar - a prototype structure (N$ss 2007: 12).

If the notion of gradable transitivity is taken as the modern standard for investigations into the transitiveness of an event, we must delineate the specific measures on which that scale is based. One of these metrics, proposed by Hopper and Thompson (1980), establishes ten distinct components that play a role in the prototypical transitivity of a clause, each component having a ‘high’ or ‘low’ quality depending upon use in discourse. These components may be thought of as the semantic building blocks of a prototypical transitive event. The more building blocks a structure has, the more stable and concrete it becomes. The prototypicality of the transitive event is dependent upon the number and level of its semantic components. The more components relevant to the event that are high on the prototypicality scale, the more transitive the event, and vice-versa.

The first component of a transitive event according to this transitivity matrix (ibid.) is an inherent DISTINCTION OF PARTICIPANTS, i.e., the action or state of the verb that affects a definable Patient, and in which a definable Agent (or Experiencer, in the case of perceptual or psychological verbs) is the origin of that action. A prototypical transitive event therefore involves two participants as in (88) below, whereas an intransitive event involves only one participant, seen in (90). ".. .a transitive clause is one which describes an event which involves two distinct, independent participants, both in the sense that they are physically distinct and independent entities, and in the sense that their roles in the event are clearly distinct: there is only one instigating agent and only one affected "endpoint" (N^ss 2007: 46).

The reflexive event, however, presents an interesting situation. Only one entity participates in the event, but that participant is realized as two separate entities, as in (90). Thus, although structurally transitive, it is highly non-prototypical.

88. I asked my boss for a vacation for my birthday.
89. I went on vacation for my birthday.
90. I treated myself royally on my birthday.

Considering the reflexive transitive event when compared to the prototypically highly distinct participants in (88) or to the intransitive event (lowest distinctness) in (89), the participants in (90) are ‘less’ distinct than (88) but ‘more’ distinct than (89), emphasizing and clarifying the gradient quality of transitivity mentioned above as well as introducing the status of the reflexive event as occurring as an intermediary construal between these transitivity poles.

Another component directly related to SA events in Hopper and Thompson’s transitivity matrix is AFFECTEDNESS OF O, referring to “The degree to which an action is transferred to a patient12 (and) is a function of how completely that patient is AFFECTED.” (ibid: 252-253). Examples (91) and (92) below display this parameter, showing high and low degrees of transitivity, respectively. In these examples, being shot (a physicality) ‘affects the O’ more than being considered (non-physicality) does. Other types of reflexive events, however, such as the ‘causative’ in (93) and SA in (94-97) exhibit just how gradient this component can be. The quality of action in SA events can be described as the emergence/lack of Self­Awareness. The action instantiates a low amount of AFFECTEDNESS OF O and therefore its low transitivity.

91. The policeman shot himself in the foot.
92. The policeman considered himself a failure.
93. The policeman made himself apologize.
94. The policeman caught himself reaching for his gun.
95. The policeman found himself in prison.13
96. The policeman found himself in prison.14
97. The policeman lost himself in thoughts of revenge.

Even though Self-Awareness may be dramatic (it can be so potent as to be life-changing), it is still a relatively non-physical, non-observable action. The quality of emergent/lack of Self­Awareness is not a flow of action from A -> P as much as an emergence/lack (however quick) of Self-Awareness within the gestalt co-referent complex. The AFFECTEDNESS OF O for this construal is prototypically lower than that of literal and/or other types of metaphorical reflexive events discussed. Precisely because of its intangibility and the effects on the construal of the AFFECTEDNESS OF O, SA events are construed between the prototypical transitive and intransitive events, i.e., the transitive middle (see section 2.4).

The third component of the transitivity matrix immediately relevant to SA events is the INDIVIDUATION OF O, which “refers both to the distinctness of the patient from the A(gent) and to its distinctness from its own background” (ibid: 253) (my parenthesis). This component has been given central importance to the notion of transitivity. “...the distinctness of participants is at the core of the notion of transitivity, and all lower-level "transitivity properties" can be understood as contributing in some way to this distinctness...” (N^ss 2007: 122). Qualities of a more individuated patient are that it is: proper, human/animate, concrete, singular, countable, and referential/definite, whereas a non-individuated patient would have qualities such as: common, inanimate, abstract, plural, mass, and non-referential (Hopper & Thompson 1980). According to this, examples (98-105) demonstrate a high-to-low gradient of transitivity, respectively:

98. Bob killed John.
99. The politician killed the bill.
100. Congressmen killed some bills.
101. Conservationists killed reform.
102. Bob killed himself. (Literally or metaphorically.)
103. The politician killed himself. (Literally, or metaphorically, i.e., ‘political suicide’.)
104. Congressmen killed themselves. (Literally or metaphorically.)
105. Conservationists killed themselves. (Literally or metaphorically.)

The senses of (102-104) display examples of meronymy and/or perhaps metonymy, the reflexive pronoun referring to a part of the physical Self, in this case, the physical body (a meronymous relationship). If the physical body were considered a gestalt entity and the pronoun stood for the patient, then the situation would be considered metonymous. Complications arise, however, when metaphorical senses are considered. On one hand, the A and O are pragmatically indistinct from one other (being co-referential), and therefore should rate low in individuation. On the other hand, the A and O are structurally distinct from one another and from their own background and therefore should rate high in ‘individuation’. The situation becomes even more interesting when SA events are considered (c.f., examples (96-99)). Due to the quality of the Self-Aware action, there is very little INDIVIDUATION OF O. As mentioned with regard to AFFECTIVENESS OF O, an emergence/lack of Self-Awareness defines the SA event. This emergent quality of action has ramifications for the INDIVIDUATION OF O in that the conception of two distinct participants is minimal. Delineation of the SA event with regard to the INDIVIDUATION OF O is twofold: 1) a non-static, gradable view of INDIVIDUATION OF O is necessary and 2) different types of reflexive events must be distinguished (i.e., literal, metaphorical, causative, SA, etc.), each having their own INDIVIDUATION OF O signatures. Taking both of these parameters into account allows for typological generalizations of prototypicality to be upheld while also accommodating semantic and pragmatic idiosyncrasies within the reflexive paradigm itself.

The components taken together confirm transitivity to be realized along a gradient scale, from those events that are highly prototypically transitive to those that are definitely not, with a number of intermediate positions. These intermediate positions, often called the transitive ‘middle’ are the subject of the next section.

2.4 The Transitive Middle

.. .The conception of the middle as a verbal category seems to be as old as the tradition of grammatical description in Indo-European (IE) languages. Rules specifying the selection of middle vs. active inflections appear in the Classical Sanskrit grammar attributed to Panini... (Klaiman 1991: 82).

Delineating a specific, cross-linguistic definition of ‘middle’ has proved a herculean task due to the multiple phonological, morpho-syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic contexts with which it is related. Even within a single language, the number of meanings to which the ‘middle’ may be related can be numerous. For instance, in some (Tibeto-Burman) Chin languages, “there is a prefix ki- or ng’- (depending on the dialect), the semantics of which covers reflexive, reciprocal, stative, intransitivizer, indirect benefactive, reflexive and passive meanings, all meanings associated with middle marking” (LaPolla 1996: 13). The middle may be expressed by unique phonological markings (Smith 2004) as in Romanian (Calude 2007), by morpho- syntactic marking such as Dutch (Ackema & Schoorlemmer 1994), Greek (Lekakou 2002), Sanskrit, Indo-European, Fula, Tamil (Klaiman 1991), Russian (Faltz 1985) and Spanish (Maldonado 2000). It may also share its marking with the reflexive as in Tibeto-Burman (LaPolla 1996) or passive as in Irish (Doyle 2007) or have no overt marking like English and Dutch (Abraham 1995; Kemmer 1993). Categorizing the structural functions of the middle encounters similar difficulties:

In a middle construction, the viewpoint is active in that the action notionally devolves from the standpoint of the most dynamic (or Agent-like) participant in the depicted situation. But the same participant has Patient-like characteristics as well, in that it sustains the action’s principal effects (Klaiman 1991: 3).

.a crucial property of middle semantics.(is) the degree to which a single physico- mental entity is conceptually distinguished into separate participants, whether body vs. mind, or Agent vs. unexpectedly contrasting Patient (Kemmer 1993: 66).

Klaiman addresses the similarities of the Agent-Patient construal; the participants seem to approach each other from opposing action-based positions (initiator and affected) to form a merged Agent-Patient participant. Kemmer focuses on the separateness of Agent-Patient as key


1 I will be using the capitals ‘S, A’ in Self-Awareness to refer to the deeper, mainly subconscious aspect of the human psyche.

2 ‘x-self5 refers genetically to the English reflexive pronouns; myself, yourself, herself, etc. used specifically with reflexive meaning.

3 A corpus-based dictionary was used to exemplify language usage in society.

4 Listed under the first definition of lose: “stop having attitude/quality etc [transitive] to stop having a particular attitude, quality, ability, etc. or to gradually have less of it, with the subheading: lose your touch.” ("Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English," 2014)

5 Non-human Agent/Experiencers are possible, for example, The company lost itself in the merger, but examples are rare. This will be dealt with in detailed in the corpus-related chapters in Part III.

6 The University of Birmingham’s COBUILD corpus was utilized for this dictionary.

7 The condensed web version, named Erlangen Valency PatternbankBETA (Thomas Herbst 2014) is a freely available resource for public use.

8 • indicates use not covered in the identified sense.

9 Unfortunately, there was no REFL PRON data in the VDE for the verb catch.

10 Interestingly, the construction ‘sit oneself down’ is admissible, but the role of the x-self pronoun here is intensifying, not reflexive (see section 1.3), and therefore the intransitivity of the clause remains unchanged.

11 One explanation is that ‘pinch’ licenses a body-part Patient (see transitive ‘middle’, section 2.3), a meronymous relationship to the Self, and therefore assumes separate entity status.

12 Hopper and Thompson define the term ‘patient’ as “an O which is in fact the ‘receiver’ of the action in a cardinal (prototypical) transitive relationship” (1980: 252) (my parenthesis).

13 This sense has the meaning of ‘He was acutely aware that he was in prison’.

14 This sense has the meaning, ‘He realized his deeper, inner self in prison’.

Excerpt out of 244 pages


Metaphoric self-awareness in reflexive constructions
University of Birmingham
English and Applied Linguistics
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
self-awareness, metaphor, reflexive, cognitive linguistics, corpus
Quote paper
Barry Grossman (Author), 2017, Metaphoric self-awareness in reflexive constructions, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Look inside the ebook
Title: Metaphoric self-awareness in reflexive constructions

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free