Reflexivity in English, French and Kinshasa Lingala: Similarities and Differences
Communication and Linguistics Studies
Volume 5, Issue 1, March 2019, Pages: 1-7
Received: Mar. 15, 2019; Accepted: Apr. 22, 2019; Published: May 15, 2019
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Larice Toko Lumanda, Department of English Letters and Civilization, University of Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
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Dunker [15] asserts that “linguistic reflexivity is a feature of the communication process, and it essentially depends on situated participants and time. It is a defining characteristic of the human language but despite its obvious importance, it is not very well understood theoretically, and it is strangely under-researched empirically”. Reflexivity exists in English, French, and Kinshasa Lingala. In all these languages, reflexivity is expressed by reflexive pronouns, reciprocal pronouns, reflexive verbs, and ergative verbs. The position and use of these pronouns and verbs differ from one language to another. Therefore, this article attempts to examine reflexivity in each of these languages in order to point out similarities and differences. The focus is on the use of reflexive pronouns, reciprocal pronouns, reflexive verbs, and ergative verbs in English, French, and Kinshasa Lingala. This article is based on observation, interview, and contrastive analysis which allows to sort out similarities and differences between languages. Observation was used during people’s talk on buses, at markets, on radios, and in avenues. An interview was prepared for some people in the Kinshasa community especially teachers. The results show that English, French, and Kinshasa Lingala use pronouns to express reflexivity. Reflexivity is expressed through the use of reflexive pronouns which have different positions in these three languages. In English, they occur in the object position. In French, they occur after a personal pronoun subject and before the verb. In Kinshasa Lingala, they occur in the verbal prefix position. As far as reciprocal pronouns are concerned, in English a reciprocal pronoun is used without reflexive pronoun whereas in French, reciprocal pronoun is optional and it is used with reflexive pronoun. In Kinshasa Lingala, the reciprocal pronoun is suffixed to the verb. It is a bound morpheme. Reflexivity is expressed by ergative verbs in English, French, and Kinshasa Lingala. In English, no reflexive pronoun is used with ergative verbs. In French, ergative verb is used with a reflexive pronoun “se”. In Kinshasa Lingala, the ergativity is expressed by the bound morpheme –ma or –mi. In conclusion, the similarities are at the level of the use of reflexive pronouns, reciprocal pronouns, and ergative verbs. Whereas the differences appear in the position occupied by the reflexive components. In English, reflexive pronouns and reciprocal pronouns occur in the object position. In French, they occur between the subject and the verb. In Kinshasa Lingala, the reflexive pronoun occurs in the verbal prefix position. Reciprocal pronoun occurs in the suffix position. Ergativity is expressed by –ma/-mi in the suffix position.
Reflexivity, Reflexive Pronouns, Reciprocal Pronouns, Reflexive Verbs, and Ergative Verbs
To cite this article
Larice Toko Lumanda, Reflexivity in English, French and Kinshasa Lingala: Similarities and Differences, Communication and Linguistics Studies. Vol. 5, No. 1, 2019, pp. 1-7. doi: 10.11648/j.cls.20190501.11
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