Expression of SELF in and through the Romanian Language

Abstract

Romanian is a Romance language, characterised by several particularities that distinguish it from the other Romance languages. Some of the particular features of this Romance language are the grammatical ways in which self is expressed; these particularities have important consequences that are reflected in literary expression and are explained from a grammatical standpoint. The purpose of this paper is to show how the expression of self is extremely interesting in Romanian from the morphological and syntactical point of view. In the first part of the paper, we will refer to the morphological particularities of Romanian with respect to the expression of self and we will consider the personal pronoun, the reflexive pronoun, the nominative case, the accusative case and the reflexive voice of Romanian verbs; the second part of the paper will detail the aspects reflected also in the Romanian syntax, presenting the subject and direct object syntactic functions. We want to point out in this paper how the grammatical peculiarities of this Romance language contributes to the semantic and stylistic richness of the language in general and to the semantics and style of expression of self in particular; both situations are reflected in particular in the fictional style of the language.

Keywords: Self;reflexive verbs;Romanian language;syntax;morphology

1. Introduction

Romanian is a Romance language, characterised by several particularities that distinguish it from the

other Romance languages.

Some of the particular features of this Romance language are the grammatical ways in which self is

expressed; these particularities have important consequences that are reflected in literary expression

and are explained from a grammatical standpoint.

The purpose of this paper is to show how the expression of self is extremely interesting, but also

extremely controversial in Romanian from the morphological and syntactical point of view.

The first part of this paper addresses the issue of reflexive constructions in Romanian ; here, we

present the theoretical framework and the views of some authors, including the arguments on which

they are based, with respect to the reflexive pronoun in Romanian, the reflexive voice and the

valences of Romanian reflexivity , out of the desire to outline an overall picture of the approached

topic; the second part of the paper presents the way in which these elements may be interpreted and

suggests a solution which we consider to be the most appropriate, with the least degree of ambiguity

for the theory and especially for the practice of grammatical analysis.

2. Research Methodology

In our linguistic analysis, we used mixed-method approach which can illustrate with example how

qualitative methods as bibliographical research, analysis, observation and interpretation can contribute

to linguistic research.

3. Short History

In the old Romanian grammars, the reflexive pronoun is dealt with in the chapter on the personal

pronoun or it is not treated as a different category of pronouns.

In Elementa Linguae Daco-Romanae , Samuil Micu and Gheorghe Şincai include the reflexive

pronoun in the category of personal pronoun and give it the name of reciprocal pronoun, specifying that

this pronoun is used in Romanian in the same situations as in Latin and its plural forms are

homonymous with the singular ones (Micu & Şincai, 1780: 37-43).

Chapter II of the first part of Ion Heliade Rădulescu’s book Gramatica românească ( Romanian

Grammar) , which was published in 1828, is dedicated to pronouns, and the simple forms of the

personal pronoun include also the reflexive forms: pe sine, se for accusative, and îşi for dative

(Rădulescu, 1828: 19-21).

The first edition, which was published in 1780 in Vienna, was written by S. Micu and only revised

and supplemented by Gh. Şincai; the second edition was published in 1805 and it was authored by Gh.

Şincai.

Timotei Cipariu, the author of Gramatec'a limbei române (Romanian Grammar),which was

published in two volumes entitled Analitica (Analytics) (1869) and Sintentica (Synthetics) (1877),

states in volume II that the forms mi, ti, si , which are unstressed forms of genitive and dative, are also

called reflexive forms provided that the subject is the same person, and the verbs created with reflexive

forms are also called reflexive (Cipariu, 1869, 1877: 166-168).

In Gramatica română (Romanian Grammar) of 1891, H. Tiktin introduced reflexivity in Part II

entitled Morphology, i.e. in the chapters Personal Pronouns, Reflexive Conjugation and Passive Voice,

and in Part III entitled Syntax , i.e. in the chapters Attributive Adjective and Verb Complement . This

grammar also includes the reflexive pronoun is the personal pronoun category (Tiktin, 1891: 70-71;

126-130).

In Gramatica elementară a limbii române (Elementary Grammar of the Romanian Language) of

1897, Al. Philippide does not include the reflexive pronoun in the chapter dedicated to the personal

pronoun, nor elsewhere. The forms sine, îşi, şi, şie, se are mentioned, but no clarification as to their

name or case is provided (Philippide, 1897: 58, 241).

In 1914, in Gramatica limbii române (Romanian Grammar) , Ioan Slavici mentions the reflexive

pronoun as a different form ofthe personal pronoun, and its forms are called in today’s grammar

reinforcing adjectives (Slavici, 1914: 26-27).

August Scriban, in Gramatica limbii româneşti (Morfologia) Pentru folosinţa tuturor (Romanian

Grammar (Morphology) to be Used by Everybody) of 1925, includes the reflexive pronoun in the

personal pronoun category(Scriban, 1925: 79-86).

In the current Romanian language , as reflected in the school grammar taught from primary school

through high school (a grammar still strongly anchored in the vision offered by the Academy’s

Grammar in 1966), the reflexive pronoun is the one that “replaces the object affected directly or

indirectly by the action of the verb and which is identical to the subject of the verb” (GLR, 1966: 152) it has its own forms only for the 3rd person, while for the other persons it borrows the dative and

accusative forms of the personal pronoun; it has two cases, dative and accusative, and both numbers,

singular and plural.

In Gramatica limbii române (Romanian Grammar) , GALR 2005, the reflexive pronoun appears in

several chapters that refer to verb, verbal phrase, syntactic constructions, subject complement,

possessive complement, anaphora. In the new grammar, the reflexive pronoun is approached in a new

way, a transformational-generative manner, which stresses the heterogeneity of the Romanian

reflexivity (GALR, 2005: 223-226).

As regards the approach to the reflexive pronoun in GALR 2005, our observations stop here

because, without going into details that are not the purpose of this paper, we only want to mention that

we do not consider the new theories to be applicable neither in the theory, nor in the practice of

grammatical analysis (especially at the pre-university education level). We appreciate their modern

character, but we dare to consider them, under many aspects, as not being part of our language and, on

the other hand, if our observations will show anyway the heterogeneity of the issue in question, we do

not see the use of complicated terminology such as: syntactic reflexive clitic, asyntactic reflexive clitic,

non-syntactic reflexive clitic (GALR, 2005: 231).

4. Reflexive Pronoun vs Personal Pronoun

In the grammatical practice of the current Romanian language, the confusion between the reflexive

pronoun and the personal pronoun is still caused by the formal identity of these two types of pronouns,

actually of clitics, in the first and the second person, singular and plural.

Therefore, the need for differentiation criteria is obvious. G. G. Neamţu proposes two criteria for the

differentiation of these pronouns, which we consider particularly useful in the practice of grammatical

analysis, because they reflect the essence of the theory and provide immediate diagnosis tools. The first

criterion is the following: “If a given pronoun has the same person (and the same number) as the verb,

then that pronoun is reflexive; if it has another person than the verb, then the pronoun is personal.

(There are no exceptions)”; the additional criterion consists of putting the verb and the pronoun in the

third person, and if îşi or se appear, then the pronoun is reflexive and vice versa (Neamţu, 2014: 106).

A preliminary conclusion is that, from a formal standpoint, the distinction between the reflexive

pronoun and the personal pronoun does not raise special problems. We cannot say the same thing about

the correct identification/interpretation of the grammatical role that these two pronouns have in

different contexts, in other words when exactly are they pronouns and therefore assume a syntactic

role, and when exactly are they morphemes and thus have no syntactic role, being specialised grammar

signs of the reflexive voice. These are the two major issues which we detail below.

5. Reflexive Pronoun and Reflexive Voice

The voice itself is a controversial grammatical category both in terms of definition and in terms of

its location in grammar; some authors consider that its place is at the morphology level, while others

claim that it is a syntactic category. The opinions and arguments go up to the point where some authors

consider it to be totally questionable, non-existent.

Voice is, in general, a controversial grammatical category, both in terms of definition and in terms of

its location/status/existence in the grammars and specialised works; the reflexive voice in particular has

been and still is a controversial issue of Romanian grammar asis apparent from the very heterogeneity

of views regarding verbs accompanied by reflexive pronouns.

From our point of view, although we have objections to the arguments, objections which we will not

present here for objective reasons, we consider appropriate the restriction to two voices made by

GALR 2005, namely the active voice and the passive voice. Some of the grounds on which we base

this assertion are: the reflexive voice is an inconsistent category, whose definition is, to a too large

extent, based on semantics, on the lexical meaning of words, thus resulting a large number of

interpretations and the classification of the passive reflexivity as passive voice instead of reflexive

voice. On the other hand, in numerous cases the verb + reflexive pronoun group has an obvious

syntactic character (which we will illustrate in the following section), while in other situations, such as

impersonal constructions, the relationship that the voice, by its very definition, requires between the

subject and the action cannot be determined. In addition, when reflexive pronouns are considered

morphemes, they are analysed grammatically as pronouns, but as pronouns which have form, case,

person, number, but no syntactic function, and this is, to say the least, unnatural: pronoun without

syntactic function ...?!

Therefore, we believe that Romanian reflexive pronouns should be considered pronouns at all times,

the verbs which they accompany should be classified under the active voice and, syntactically,

reflexive pronouns should have the appropriate syntactic functions, namely either direct object in

accusative, or indirect object in dative, or dative pronominal attribute. We believe that such a solution

would meet the requirements of a unified and coherent grammatical analysis; in addition, it would

reflect its usefulness especially in the school theory and practice. Next, we intend to argue the

sustainability of these statements.

6. Reflexive Pronoun or Morpheme? Syntactic Valences

The grammatical interpretation of these concepts is not uniform, there is no solution unanimously

accepted by the experts in the field, which is why there are obvious repercussions on both the grammar

theory and the grammar practice in the pre-university education where, in certain alternative textbooks,

the authors opt for four voices: active, passive, reflexive and active pronominal. The active pronominal

voice is an error whose first effect is the violation of the reflexive voice’s definition and thus the non-

inclusion of the verbs accompanied by an intrinsic reflexive pronoun into this voice, which is why we

believe, for example, that the definition given in the seventh grade textbook authored by Anca Şerban

şi Sergiu Şerban is unacceptable: “The verbs in the reflexive voice show that the grammatical subject

performs the action. Its participation is intense and sometimes the action affects the one who performs

it.”(Şerban, Şerban, 1999: 61) (?!)

As regards the grammatical interpretation of reflexive pronouns, there are three directions.

According to the first direction, all reflexive pronouns in dative and accusative are considered to be

morphemes of the reflexive voice, the reflexive voice is considered to be a grammatical category, and

the reflexive pronouns fall into this grammatical category with analytical achievement. According to

the second direction, which is based on the uniqueness of functions in subordination, all reflexive

pronouns in dative and accusative are actual reflexive pronouns. According to the third direction,

which is the most widely accepted one, reflexive pronouns are considered to be pronouns in some

situations and morphemes in others, depending on the grammatical meanings developed by the

reflexive pronoun + verb groups. When the forms îşi, şi, şi-, -şi, -şi-, se, se-, -se, s-, -s are attached to

reflexive, dynamic, eventive, impersonal and passive verbs, they become marks of the reflexive voice,

they become signs, which is why they lose their syntactic role, and when they are attached to objective

and reciprocal pronominal verbs, they remain pronouns.

In conclusion, a reflexive pronoun is a morpheme when it marks the reflexive voice; in all other

illustrated situations, it is a pronoun with all its related attributes and, depending on context, it may

have three syntactic functions: direct object, indirect object, dative pronominal attribute.

7. Results

In this paper, we wanted to point out how the grammatical peculiarities of the Romanian language

contribute to its semantic and stylistic richness in general and to the semantics and expression of self in

particular; many times both situations are reflected in particular in the fictional style of the language.

Our results point by point are:

From a formal standpoint, the distinction between the reflexive pronoun and the personal pronoun does not raise special problems;

A problematic issue is the correct identification/interpretation of the grammatical role that these two pronouns have in different contexts, in other words when exactly are they pronouns and therefore assume a syntactic role, and when exactly are they morphemes and thus have no syntactic role, being specialised grammar signs of the reflexive voice;

Voice is, in general, a controversial grammatical category, both in terms of definition and in terms of its location/status/existence in the grammars and specialised works; The reflexive voice in particular has been and still is a controversial issue of Romanian grammar asis apparent from the very heterogeneity of views regarding verbs accompanied by reflexive pronouns;

We consider appropriate the restriction to two voices made by GALR 2005, namely the active voice and the passive voice, for the following reasons:

I. the reflexive voice is an inconsistent category, whose definition is, to a too large extent, based on semantics, on the lexical meaning of words, thus resulting a large number of interpretations and the classification of the passive reflexivity as passive voice instead of reflexive voice;

II. in numerous cases the verb + reflexive pronoun group has an obvious syntactic character,while in other situations, such as impersonal constructions, the relationship that thevoice, by its very definition, requires between the subject and the action cannot bedetermined;

III. when reflexive pronouns are considered morphemes, they are analysed grammatically aspronouns, but as pronouns which have form, case, person, number, but no syntacticfunction, and this is, to say the least, unnatural: pronoun without syntactic function ...?!

=For these reasons, we believe that Romanian reflexive pronouns should be considered pronouns at all times, the verbs which they accompany should be classified under the active voice and, syntactically, reflexive pronouns should have the appropriate syntactic functions, namely either direct object in accusative, or indirect object in dative, or dative pronominal attribute. We believe that such a solution would meet the requirements of a unified and coherent grammatical analysis; in addition, it would reflect its usefulness especially in the school theory and practice.

References

  1. Micu, S, Şincai, Gh. (1780). Elementa linguae daco-romanae. Viena.
  2. Rădulescu, I. H. (1828). Gramatica românească, ediţie şi studiu de Valeria Guţu Romalo. Bucureşti: Editura Eminescu.
  3. Cipariu, T. (1869, 1877). Gramatec’a limbei române, Partea I. Analitica, Partea I. Sintetica, cu spesele Societatei Academice Române. Bucureşti.
  4. Tiktin, H. (1891). Gramatica limbii române. București.
  5. Philippide, Al. (1897). Gramatica elementară a limbii române. Iaşi: Editura Librăriei ISR Kuppermann.
  6. Slavici, I. (1914). Gramatica limbii române, Partea I, Etimologia. Bucureşti: Editura Minerva.
  7. Scriban, A. (1925). Gramatica limbii româneşti. Morfologia. Pentru folosinţa tuturor, ediţiunea I. Iaşi: Institutu de Arte Grafice ,,Viaţa românească” S.A.
  8. GLR, vol. I (1966). Gramatica limbii române, vol. I, Ediţia a II-a revăzută şi adaugită. Bucureşti: Editura Academiei.
  9. GALR, vol. I. (2005). Gramatica limbii române, Cuvântul, vol. I. Bucureşti: Editura Academiei Române.
  10. GALR, vol. I. (2005). Gramatica limbii române, Cuvântul, vol. I, Editura Academiei Române, Bucureşti. Neamţu, G. G. (2014). Teoria şi practica analizei gramaticale, Distincţii şi ... distincţii. Piteşti: Editura Paralalela 45.
  11. Şerban, A., Şerban, S. (1999). Limba română. Manual pentru clasa a 7-a. Bucureşti: Ministerul Educaţiei Naţionale, Editura All.

Copyright information

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

About this article

Cite this paper as:

Click here to view the available options for cite this article.

Publisher

Future Academy

First Online

18.12.2019

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2016.09.91

Online ISSN

2357-1330