Reciprocal (grammar)

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A reciprocal is a linguistic structure that marks a particular kind of relationship between two noun phrases. In a reciprocal construction, each of the participants occupies both the role of agent and patient with respect to the other. For example, the English sentence "John and Mary cut each other's hair", contains a reciprocal structure: John cuts Mary's hair, and Mary cuts John's.

Many languages, such as Semitic languages, Altaic languages or Bantu languages, have special reciprocal morphemes in verbs. English does not, and it generally uses "each other" or some other phrase to indicate reciprocity. Latin uses inter and the reflexive pronoun of the subject of the verb: inter se (between themselves) when the verb is third-person. Most Indo-European languages do not have special markers for reciprocity on verbs, and reciprocal constructions are expressed through reflexivity or other mechanisms. For example, Russian marks reciprocity in intransitive verbs with the suffix -ся (self), which has also reflexive and passive interpretations.

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