Forests and Trees: the Formal Semantics of Collective Categorization (ROCKY)


10 December 2018
16:30 - 18:00
Drift 21, room 0.13

ROCKY lecture: When “se” is not needed: lexical reciprocity and reflexivity in Brazilian Portuguese – Renato Miguel Basso and Giada Palmieri

Many Romance languages use items like “se” (French) or “si” (Italian) to express reflexivity or reciprocity. Brazilian Portuguese (BP) is another Romance language where the item “se” expresses reflexivity and reciprocity, but such interpretations may also appear without this element.
In this talk, we show evidence for a general distinction between lexical (L) reciprocity/reflexivity and grammatical (G) reciprocity/reflexivity. After reviewing recent findings distinguishing these readings in Italian, we will look at the distribution of “se” in BP. In parallel to the tests in Italian, we will show a link between the possibility to drop “se”/”si” and the availability of L-reciprocity/reflexivity. While L-reciprocal and L-reflexive verbs in BP give rise to intransitive sentences without “se”, this element is needed in order to generate G-reflexivity and G-reciprocity. We conclude that the difference between the behavior of “se”/”si” in BP and Italian lies in the syntax of finite clauses in these languages, but the lexical semantic distinctions that they make and their effects on reciprocity and reflexivity are remarkably similar.