Reciprocal Constructions in Turkic Languages

By: Vladimir Nedjalkov
Institute of Linguistic Research RAS, St. Petersburg

Reciprocal Construction in Turkic Languages
(Typological Characteristics)

1. This paper is concerned with certain semantic and syntactic peculiarities of reciprocal constructions in a number of Turkic languages, against the typological background of languages belonging to some other families.

With regard to Turkic languages the term reciprocal construction applies to sentences containing either a predicate with the reciprocal suffix (or -s) or a reciprocal pronoun (like Yakut beye-beye-leri-n meaning ‘each other’ also used in other East-Siberian branch of the Turkic family, or biri-biri-n in other languages). I will consider reciprocal constructions with suffixed verbs only. The reciprocal pronouns are monosemous, whereas the reciprocal suffix is highly polysemous. Thus, for instance, the Tuvan suffixed form (1) üpte-š- may have the following four meanings: (i) reciprocal ‘rob each other’, (ii) sociative ‘rob sb together’, (iii) comitative ‘together with sb rob sb’, and (iv) assistive ‘help sb rob sb’ (K. Kuular, to appear). The common feature of these four meanings is easy to see: in each of the situations they denote that the same action is performed by at least two persons.
The Turkic reciprocal suffix, being a valency-changing device, is peculiar in that it can influence the syntactic properties of the derivative in all the three possible ways, each correlating with one or another meaning of this derivative: in case (a) the valency is reduced due to the elimination of the (direct) object (or its demotion, if both reciprocants are denoted by different sentence constituents, viz. the subject and a non- subject); in case (b) the valency of the base verb is retained, and in (c) and (d) valency increase takes place.
Judging by the available literature, the polysemy characteristic of the Turkic reciprocal suffix is rather idiosyncratic: so far, it is not registered among reciprocal markers in any other languages of the world, excepting the areally adjacent Mongolian languages (the suffixes -lda and -lca/-lsa; G. Sanzheev 1963). And even among the Turkic languages the reciprocal suffix does not always display all the four meanings. The polysemy covering all these four meanings is attested in Yakut, Tuvan, Tofalar, Tatar, Turkmenian, Kazakh, Salar, but not, for instance, in Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Karachay-Balkar where the assistive meaning is lacking (see also E. Sevortjan 1962). The meaning of the reciprocal suffix in each particular case is determined in the first place by the lexical meaning of the base verb and also by pragmatic factors (cf. Yakut tapta-s- whose only meaning out of the four listed under (1) is ‘love each other’).
2. In the broad sense, the reciprocal meaning is semantically (and often genetically) related to the reflexive, sociative and iterative meanings. This finds expression in the fact that across languages, we observe three basic types of markers whose polysemy may include the reciprocal meaning: 1) reflexive-reciprocal polysemy (cf. Bulgarian (2) Te se gledat ‘They look at themselves / each other’); 2) reciprocal-sociative polysemy (cf. Buryat (3) asuu- ‘ask sb’ asuu-lda- / asuu-lsa- ‘ask each other’; (4) oro- ‘enter’ oro-lda- / oro-lsa- ‘enter together’; К. Cheremisov 1973); 3) iterative-reciprocal polysemy, semantically linked with sociativity as well (cf. one of the means of reciprocal derivation in Chinese: (5) da-lai-da-qu (da = ‘beat’) with the meanings i. ‘beat each other’, ii. ‘fight several times, repeatedly’; M. Liu 1999). The Turkic reciprocal marker represents the second, i.e. reciprocal-sociative type of polysemy (this pertains to the Mongolian marker mentioned above) – hence the traditional term ‘reciprocal-sociative voice’ (взаимно-совместный залог) used to denote forms with the reciprocal suffix.
Each of the three basic types of polysemy covering reciprocity may also include other meanings, either to a greater or lesser degree idiosyncratic for each or shared by at least two types of polysemy (see below the meanings of competition, plural number, and anticausative).
3. The vast territories occupied by the Turkic languages, mostly in Asia, are part of the area which is also the home of a great many other languages (not all of them in immediate contact with the Turkic languages). Most of the latter languages also possess morphological markers of reсiprocity: suffixes (in Mongolian and Tungusic languages, also in Chukchi, Eskimo and Japanese), prefixes (in Yukaghir, Itelmen, Nivkh, Ainu). In this vast area only Ket (N. Grishina, p.c.) and Samoyedic languages lacking a reciprocal affix.
As is known, the Turkic languages have a five-member voice system (active – passive – reflexive – reciprocal – causative); other languages of the greater areal in question lack a morphological reflexive marker (an exception are Ainu and Yukaghir).
This linguistic areal is opposed to the European where the reciprocal meaning in many languages is expressed by (markers descended from) reflexive pronouns (cf. example (2)), and the morphological causative is usually lacking (with the exception of the Baltic languages, Armenian and Hindi). A kind of intermediate zone is the areal of Finno-Ugric languages which possess morphological causatives, and reciprocity may be expressed by reflexive suffixes (cf. Mansi (6) lowt-xat(u) ‘wash (oneself)’, titt-xat(u) ‘feed each other’ (Е. Rombandeeva 1973); Mari mušk-0lt-aš ‘wash (oneself)’, šupšal-alt-‘kiss each other’ (I. Galkin 1966); Udmurt düs'a-s'k0-n0 ‘dress (oneself)’, vera-s'k0-n0 ‘talk (to each other)’ (Т. Tepljashina 1966)).
4. The Turkic languages display significant differences in the polysemy of the reciprocal marker – not only in the range of meanings but also in the productivity of its four main meanings listed in section 1. The following should be pointed out: a) the reciprocal meaning, which to a greater or lesser degree seems to be preserved in all the Turkic languages, is highly productive in Yakut and unproductive in Turkish and Karachay- Balkar; b) the sociative meaning is highly productive in Yakut, absent in Kirghiz and it is limited only (or mostly) to derivation from intransitives in Tatar and Karachay-Balkar; c) to what is said about the assistive meaning in section 1, it should be added that in Tatar this meaning is even much more productive than recip- rocal (the data of G. Zinnatullina 1969). The reciprocal and the assistive meanings are more distanced off from one another than the sociative, comitative and assistive. The affinity of the latter three meanings is stressed by the fact that there are languages where they are expressed by the same marker which has no reciprocal function; cf., for instance Ancient Greek (7) fero ‘carry’ и sym-fero i. ‘carry sth together’ (sociative), ii. ‘together with sb carry sth’ (comitative), iii. ‘help sb carry sth’ (assistive) (I. Dvoreckij 1958).
Roughly speaking, the reciprocal meaning is less productive in the western part of the Turkic areal than in the rest of it. In this same western areal the assistive meaning is typically lacking. Characteristically, distribution and productivity of one or another meaning of the reciprocal suffix may not coincide with the established subgrouping of the Turkic languages. By analogy, in the western areal of Finno-Ugric languages the suffixes of reflexive origin are less productive as markers of reciprocity or lack this function at all (Hungarian, Estonian, Finnish). On the other hand, interestingly enough, the markers of reflexive origin have lost productivity as markers of reciprocity in the Indo-European languages of the eastern areal (East-Slavic languages) which borders on the western areal of Turkic languages and the western areal Finno-Ugric languages.
5. Alongside the four main meanings representing large lexical groups of Turkic languages, the reciprocal suffix may have a variety of secondary meanings, usually on a more or less limited number of bases. These meanings may have evolved or become productive in the period of individual existence of the Turkic languages. The following cases should be noted.
1) Productivity of the competitive meaning in Karachay-Balkar where competitives derive practically from all verbs denoting actions which allow competition, e.g. (8) sava-š- ‘compete in milking’, artï-š- ‘compete in potato peeling’, and what not (V. Nedjalkov 2002). In other Turkic languages this meaning is either lacking (e.g. in Azerbaijani; E. Sevortjan 1962) or it is found on a few derivatives (from six to a dozen, e.g. in Yakut) formed from transitive and intransitive bases denoting actions, in which competitions are held traditionally (i.e. lexical meanings like ‘run’, ‘jump’, ‘shoot’, ‘ski’).
2) The meaning of 3rd person plural number in Kirghiz (and also, to a lesser degree, in Uzbek and Kazach); cf. (9) Biz at-ïš-tï-k ‘We fired at each other’ (-tï- = PAST, -k = 1PL, -ïš = REC) and (10) Alar at-ïš-tï- Ø i. ‘They fired at each other’ (Ø = 3rd p., -ïš = REC), ii. ‘They fired at someone’ (-ïš = 3PL). The simulta- neous use of the suffix -ïš in two different meanings is grammatical, although it seems unusual: (11) Alar at- ïš-ïš-tï ‘They fired at each other’ (V. Nedjalkov, to appear).
These two meanings of the reciprocal suffix, absent in a number of other Turkic languages, are not accidental: they are attested on polysemous markers with the main reciprocal meaning in a number of other world languages, though such cases are not common. Thus, for instance, the reciprocal marker in Japanese is rather productive as a competittive marker (M. Shibatani, T. Tsunoda, p.c.). In Bulgarian, there is a class of verbs with the prefix nad- and reflexive-reciprocal clitic (see (2)), expressing competition; cf.: (12) a. Te go nadpivat lit. ‘They overdrink him’ — b. Te se nadpivat ‘They compete in drinking’ (К. Ivanova 1973).
A reciprocal marker occurs in the plural meaning in Samoan (S. Churchward 1951) and Sakhalin Ainu (M. Chiri 1973).
6. Of special typological interest are spatial transitive reciprocals: they derive mostly from three-place transitives denoting joining or separating of the object referents, and the derivational marker denotes reciprocalization of the latter (direct and non-direct object) referents. The following marking devices are attested across languages:
1) non-reciprocal affixes with the meaning of joining or separating; cf. Russian (13) a. On pri-kleil А k B ‘He glued A to B’ b. On s-kleil A i B ‘He glued A and B together’);
2) a reciprocal affix used to derived standard (proper) reciprocals; cf. Kabardian (14) guэun ‘shout at sb’ -guэun ‘shout at each other’ and (15) kIэr0dэn ‘sew sth (on)to sth’ zэ-kIэr0dэn ‘sew two pieces together’; М. Apazhev et al. 1957);
3) a causative affix attached to an anticausative verb with a reciprocal affix. It is this device that is employed in some of the Turkic languages; cf. Kirghiz: (16) а. ula- ‘add sth on sth’, ‘join the ends of sth’ b. ula-š- ‘to join’ (vi) c. ula-š-tïr- with the meaning ‘tie sth and sth together’ (cf. uè-un uè-una ula-š-tïr ‘tie one end with another’) (К. Yudakhin 1965). The final derivative is close in meaning to the base verb ula-. We observe a tendency to mark a certain lexical class of verbs with the complex suffix -š-tïr. The latter case, i.e. anticausatives with a reciprocal suffix and derivation of causatives from them, and combinability of the reciprocal and the causative suffixes, deserves special attention.
a) Anticausatives. In the Turkic languages, the reciprocal suffix is used as an anticausative marker mostly on three-place transitives which may function as lexical reciprocals (when used with symmetrical object arguments; see (16)). Anticausative usage of reciprocal markers in the Turkic languages is not an idiosyncracy and occurs in other unrelated languages as well. Particularly productive in this function are reflexive-reciprocal markers, like Russian (17) slomat’ ‘to break’ (vt) slomat’-sja ‘to break’ (vi); anticausative derivation with these markers generally has fewer lexical restrictions than the markers of the -š- type. Thus, for instance, in Russian it is one of the main functions of the reflexive-reciprocal marker -sja (about 1400 anticausative derivatives; E. Korolev 1968). In the Turkic languages, anticausatives of this type are also derived by other valency-decreasing voice markers (passive -l and reflexive -n), and they can be synonymous with parallel reciprocally marked anticausatives; cf. Yakut (18) silimnee- ‘to glue sth with sth’ silimne-s- ‘to glue (get glued) together’ (L. Xaritonov 1963; V. Nedjalkov 2003). Anticausatives with a reciprocal marker are also attested in non-Turkic languages: Zulu (E. Damman 1954), Muna (R. van der Berg 1989), Khalkha Mongol (G. Sanzheev 1963), etc.
b) Causative derivation from anticausatives. The tendencey illustrated in (16) sometimes manifests itself also in the case of spatial reciprocals marked with the reciprocal suffix alone (as shown in (14)-(15)); cf. Kirghiz (19) а. kak- ‘knock’ b. kag-ïš- i. ‘knock one thing against another’, ii. ‘collide’ c. kag-ïš-tïr- ‘knock one thing agains another’. The two synonymous transitives (see (19b.i) and (19c) can be amplified by one more (20d), also with the reciprocal-causative marker: (20) а. kak- ‘knock’ b. kag-ïl- ‘bump (against sth)’ c. kag-ïl-ïš- ‘bump into each other’ d. kag-ïl-ïš-tïr- ‘knock one thing against another’ (V. Nedjalkov, to appear).
c) Reciprocal-causative affixes. A combination of a reciprocal and a causative suffix may be reinterpreted and function as a single marker. This complex reciprocal-causative suffix -štïr- can be used to mark three-place transitives even bypassing the anticausative derivative of the underlying base verb, because this intermediate derivative may be lacking in general or it may be semantically unrelated to reciprocal-causative derivative, i.e. the last member of the derivational chain; cf. Kirghiz (21) а. bayla- ‘tie sth to sth’ b. bayla-štïr- ‘tie together (e.g. horses)’; the form bayla-š- does exist, but semantically it is unrelated to (21b), since it means ‘tie sth together (= jointly)’ and ‘help tie sth’
Analogous to bayla-štïr- forms are registered in a variety of languages, and they are generally derived from three-place transitives with the meaning of joining two or more objects; cf. Japanese (22) а. xar-u ‘to glue sth to sth’ b. xar-aw-ase-ru ‘to glue sth together’ (-a/-aw- = reciprocal suffix, -ase- = cаusative suffix). The base verb does not have a reciprocal form like *xari-a-u (M. Himeno 1982). There are over fifty spatial derivatives with the suffix -aw-ase-.
7. Turkic constructions with the reciprocal affix are of typological interest both for intra-Turkic and crosslinguistic comparison.

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