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Beyond Identity: The Case of a Complex Hungarian Reflexive

György Rákosi


It is a well-known typological universal that long distance reflexives are generally monomorphemic and complex reflexives tend to be licensed only locally. I argue in this paper that the Hungarian body part reflexive maga 'himself' and its more complex counterpart önmaga 'himself, his own self' represent a non-isolated pattern that adds a new dimension to this typology. Nominal modification of a highly grammaticalized body part reflexive may reactivate the dormant underlying possessive structure, thereby granting the more complex reflexive variant an increased level of referentiality and syntactic freedom. In particular, the reactivation of the possessive structure in önmaga is shown to be concomitant with the possibility of referring to representations of the self, as well as a preference for what appears to be coreferential readings and the loss or dispreference of bound-variable readings.

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