‘Wednesday’s’ Word – zir and ksir

Today’s post delves a bit more into the grammar of Mychai than the previous few posts did. It’s all about reflexive and reciprocal expressions (see Middle voice); how they’re similar to English, and how they’re different.

First off, let’s cover how to make singular reflexive expressions along the lines of John shaved (himself), where in English the reflexive pronoun can be dropped and you still assume John is shaving himself and not someone else.

De ksir/zir kstire. 
de              ksir/zir            kstire
1.AGT      REFL                shave.PRS
I am shaving (myself).

In Mychai, the reflexive particles (not truly a pronoun) cannot be omitted as in English without changing the meaning. Since objects can easily be omitted, the meaning remains active:

De kstire. 
de            kstire
1.AGT     shave.PRS
I am shaving someone.

So, back to that reflexive particle: ksir and zir are often interchangeable in the singular, and largely either can be used. However, some dialects disallow ksir in singular expressions. Recently, the Seren dialect of Mychai (this reminds me, that I ought to put up some maps) has developed shades of meaning between ksir and zir in the singular, namely that ksir expresses something being done due to an external pressure (the agent was convinced to do something or forced to do something to themselves), while zir expresses that the agent has full agency in the action.

In the plural, however, there is a clearer distinction between ksir and zir. Zir is used for reflexive expressions, while ksir is used for reciprocal actions. In this way, ksir can be understood as meaning each other or one another.

Mire zir kstire.
mire            zir              kstire
3p.NOM     REFL        shave.PRS
They are shaving (themselves).

That is each man in the group I’m referring to is shaving himself, and no one else.

Mire ksir kstire.
mire            ksir              kstire
3p.NOM     RECP        shave.PRS
They are shaving each other.

Perhaps they’re unable to shave themselves or need help.

Importantly, not all expressions in English that use reflexive pronouns are covered by the middle voice markers (ksir/zir). Intensive expressions such as I myself cut the grass, where the subject is being focused is primarily done through shifting word order in Mychai.

Also, anticausative expressions, such as the German Die Tür öffnet sich (The door opens) or English The window broke, are done simply through omission of a subject.

An additional meaning of the ksir/tsir particles is that of together or jointly.

Mal ksir e.
mal                 ksir               e
1.PL.NOM     together      went
We went together.


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1 Response to ‘Wednesday’s’ Word – zir and ksir

  1. oogenhand says:

    Reblogged this on oogenhand and commented:
    Good use of audio files.

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