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
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
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
The first part of this paper addresses the issue of
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
topic; the second part of the paper presents the way in which these elements may be interpreted and
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.
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
personal pronoun include also the reflexive forms:
(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.
Timotei Cipariu, the author of Gramatec'a limbei române (Romanian Grammar),which was
published in two volumes entitled
states in volume II that the forms
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).
entitled Morphology, i.e. in the chapters Personal Pronouns, Reflexive Conjugation and Passive Voice,
grammar also includes the reflexive pronoun is the personal pronoun category (Tiktin, 1891: 70-71;
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
name or case is provided (Philippide, 1897: 58, 241).
In 1914, in
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
personal pronoun category(Scriban, 1925: 79-86).
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.
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
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)”;
third person, and if
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
role, and when exactly are they
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.
its location/status/existence in the grammars and specialised works; the
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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04 October 2016
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Communication, communication studies, social interaction, moral purpose of education, social purpose of education
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Peica, C. (2016). Expression of SELF in and through the Romanian Language. In A. Sandu, T. Ciulei, & A. Frunza (Eds.), Logos Universality Mentality Education Novelty, vol 15. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 720-726). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2016.09.91