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Reflexives formed with the suffix -sels self

The forms which are used as inherent reflexives may have the suffix -sels self attached to them. This creates reflexives which can turn any verb into a reflexive predicate. An example is given below:

Example 1

Peer Gynt siket himsels yn dreamen en yn dieden
Peer Gynt looks.for himself in dreams and in deeds
Peer Gynt tries to find himself in dreams and in deeds

An example of the complete paradigm of sels reflexives is given below, alongside the paradigm of inherent reflexives:

Table 1
Gloss Inherent reflexive jin fersinne to be mistaken -selsreflexive jinsels sykje to try to find oneself
1SG Ik fersin my Ik sykje mysels
2SG Do fersinst dy Do sikest dysels
3SG.MSC (NT) Hy fersint him Hy siket himsels
3SG.F Hja fersint har Hja siket harsels
3SG.NT It fersint him It siket himsels
1PL Wy fersinne ús Wy sykje ússels
2PL Jim fersinne jim Jim sykje jimsels
3PL Hja fersinne har Hja sykje harsels
2SG formal Jo fersinne jo / je Jo sykje josels / jesels
3SG arbitrary Men fersint jin Men siket jinsels
The antecedent of a reflexive must occupy a position that outranks the position of the reflexive in some sense. This notion of relative outranking is formalised within generative theory as c-command: an antecedent must c-command a reflexive. The following rules of thumb roughly describe which constituent outranks which constituent:
  • Subject > Indirect object > Direct object
  • Noun Phrase (NP) > Adposition Phrase (PP)
  • A human argument > another argument
In addition, antecedents must occur relatively close to their reflexives. This notion of relative closeness has been formalised in generative theory as locality. A verbal projection such as a clause is often the local domain in which a reflexive must find its antecedent. The subject is highest in the clause. Hence the antecedent of a reflexive is usually, but not always, the subject. Some examples are given below. The first example involves a reflexive functioning as a direct object:

Example 2

Dan moatte wy ús taal, ús kultuer, ús namme, ja ússels ôfskaffe
then must we our language our culture our name yes ourselves abolish
Then we must do away with our language, our culture, our name, yes, ourselves

The example below involves a reflexive functioning as a prepositional object:

Example 3

Soe men net razend wurde op jinsels?
would one not red.hot become at oneself
Wouldn't one become furious with oneself?

The example below involves a reflexive functioning as a benefactive indirect object:

Example 4

Wy koenen ússels ek wol ien tameitsje
we could ourselves DcP DcP one prepare
We could prepare one for ourselves as well, could not we?

The reflexive jinsels behaves like a logophor, in the sense that it can take other pronouns as its antecedent, provided the antecedent occurs in a different clause. In the following example, jinsels oneself takes se she for its antecedent, though the antecedent is not in the same clause:

Example 5

Letter … hie se har faak yntocht, hoe't it oars kind hie, in spultsje en wat foar jinsels
later had she her often imagined how it differently could have a small.farm and what for oneself
Later she had often imagined how things could have turned out differently, a small farm and something for oneself

In the following example, there is no overt antecedent for jinsels. The understood antecedent is presumably the silent subject of the nominalised verb pielen hobbying:

Example 6

Oh sa'n bulte aardichheid oan it pielen foar jinsels, mar net sa om der wat op oer to buorkjen
o such.a heap pleasure at the hobbying for oneself but not so for it.R what on over to farm
Taking so much pleasure in it as a hobby, but not for making a profit out of it