On the Form and Function of Reflexives in Artificial Languages

Libert Alan1, Christo Moskovsky1
Author Information & Copyright
1University of Newcastle

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


This paper explores issues in relation to the form and function of re flexive pronouns which a language designer should take into consid eration in the construction of an artificial language grammar. The first main part of the paper deals with the rather complex and versatile nature of reflexive pronouns in natural languages,discussing reflexives in terms of syntactic and discourse function,morphemic structure lexical specification for phi-features,subject-orientation,etc. Typological and functional aspects of reflexive pronouns in a number of existing artifi cial languages are considered in the next part of the paper. The final part addresses the question of what would be the optimal reflexive pro noun from the perspective of artificial language construction. It is proposed that any component of an artificial language grammar,including the reflexive pronoun,would inevitably be a compromise between sim plicity of form and function on the one hand,and clarity on the other. It is also suggested that,as artificial languages are by their very nature non-primary languages,designers of artificial languages should take into account essential properties of second language acquisition and use.

Keywords: reflexive pronouns; artìficial languages; second language acquisition