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  • Events in Madurese Reciprocals1
  • William D. Davies

This paper examines the two manners of forming reciprocal meaning in Madurese, each of which is based on elements that are used for nonreciprocal meaning. Although the two constructions appear to have little in common formally, I argue that they do share an important semantic property that makes them particularly suited to forming reciprocals. This property is that they are used to describe discrete multiple events, precisely the type of situation that obtains in reciprocal meaning. Therefore, these constructions are selected rather than other candidate constructions that show plural activity but crucially are not used for discrete multiple events. The properties of the various candidate constructions are explicitly contrasted in some detail. Finally, I demonstrate the special syntactic characteristics of the reciprocals that distinguish them from the nonreciprocal uses, properties that indicate that the reciprocals have been grammaticized.

1. Introduction.

Madurese has two disparate means of forming reciprocals-one is a reduplication strategy, illustrated in (1), the other makes use of the morpheme saleng, as in (2).2

(1) Ali biq Hasan kolpokol-an.

A   and H     RED.hit-AN

    'Ali and Hasan hit each other.'

(2) Ali biq Hasan saleng pokol.

A   and H            hit

'Ali and Hasan hit each other.'

The two forms of reciprocals employ morphology used elsewhere in the language that has nonreciprocal meaning. Additionally, while the two forms appear to have little in common, I argue here that they actually share an important semantic [End Page 123] property that makes them just those two constructions available in the language that most sensibly could be used to form reciprocals. What the data will show is that what the two constructions have in common and what distinguishes them from other candidate constructions in the language is a usage that describes discrete multiple events-just the kind of situation that obtains in true reciprocals.

I make the argument that these devices are uniquely suited to serve as the basis of reciprocals by contrasting the multiple events requirements of reduplication and the saleng morpheme with other devices in the language designed to show plural activity or participants (in sections 4 and 5). However, the reciprocals have special syntactic properties that distinguish them in subtle ways from the nonreciprocal use of reduplication and saleng. This indicates that the particular set of morphological and syntactic properties has been grammaticized in the language and now is used uniquely to designate reciprocal actions. These special properties are detailed in section 6.

2. Two Types of Reciprocals.

The two strategies for forming reciprocals illustrated in (1) and (2) are further exemplified in (3) and (4).

(3) Ali biq Hasan buktambuk-an bato.

A   and H     RED.throw-AN    stone

'Ali and Hasan threw the stones at each other.'

(4) Ali biq Hasan saleng tambuk bato.

A   and H            throw   stone

'Ali and Hasan threw the stones at each other.'

(1) and (3) are examples of reduplication reciprocals. Here we find reduplication of the base verb's final syllable and suffixation of the morpheme -an; so in (3) the base verb is tambuk 'throw' with the final syllable buk reduplicated on the front of the base and -an suffixed.3 With the saleng reciprocals (2) and (4), we find the base form of the verb preceded by the morpheme saleng, which is argued below to be a distributive morpheme.

These two constructions share some formal properties, listed in (5), which will be discussed in more detail in section 6.


  1. a. lack of voice morphology

  2. b. local subject antecedent

  3. c. lack of overt reciprocal NP

The first property that the two constructions share is the obligatory lack of voice morphology. As will be made clear in the following section, if either the actor voice or object voice morphology characteristic of Javanic languages is present on [End Page 124] the verb, the construction is no longer reciprocal. Thus, (1) obligatorily occurs as kolpokol rather than the actor voice kolmokol and (2) occurs as pokol rather than mokol.4 Second, as is frequently the case in the world's languages, the reciprocals require a local subject antecedent. Finally, there is no overt reciprocal...


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