Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

Reciprocal Pronouns: From Discontinuity to Unity

Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

Reciprocal Pronouns: From Discontinuity to Unity

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Present-day English has two reciprocal pronouns, one another and each other. According to Quirk et al. (1985: 364-365), they are related to the reflexive pronouns in that they express a 'two-way reflexive relationship'. These pronouns are compound units, and cannot be used in subject position in finite clauses. The reciprocals can co-refer only to plural noun phrases, since reciprocity presupposes more than one participant

Quirk et al. (1985) argue that in actual language usage there is no difference between these two pronouns despite the prescriptivists' preference for each other for reference to two and one another to many. A stylistic difference exists, however, so that each other is more common in informal style and one another in more formal contexts. The reciprocals are relatively rare, since the millionword Brown Corpus of American English only contains 114 instances of each other and 45 of one another.

This paper sets out to find out when and how these two pronouns acquired their compound character. It also explores the textual and, to some extent, social constraints that may have played a role in their development. On the whole, the issue is about grammaticalization, if we interpret it here as a process in which grammatical items become more grammaticalized (e.g. Heine et al. 1991: 2). Two of the elements at issue, one and other, were originally numerals, and have been the objects of repeated grammaticalizations, acquiring various pronominal functions during the history of English (see Rissanen: forthcoming).

2. The data

This study uses The Corpus of Early English Correspondence (Nevalainen - Raumolin-Brunberg 1996) and The Helsinki Corpus of English Texts (kyto 1993) as its main sources. The present version of The Correspondence Corpus (CEEC) covers 2.5 million running words from 1420 to 1680. For this paper I studied approximately 1.8 million words from 1540 to 1680. A systematic quantitative analysis of this material was carried out for 1560-1681. From The Helsinki Corpus (HC) I chose the Early Modern English section. covering the years 1500-1710 (c. 550,000 words), which has been divided into three subsections, E1 1500-70, E2 1570-1640 and E3 1640-1710. Comparisons were also made with The Shakespeare Corpus (Wells -- Taylor 1989).

3. Reciprocal pronouns from Middle English to Early Modern English

3.1. Variety of forms

Mustanoja (1960: 153-154) mentions that reciprocal function in Middle English could be expressed by some inherently reciprocal verbs alone, such as kiss, which is, of course, the case even today. Usually, however, reciprocity was indicated by each...other, every...other, either...other and their variants as well as one...other and plain other. These forms remained in use in Early Modern English as well, as we can see from examples (1-3) for each...other, (4-5) for every...other, (6) for either...other, and (7-10) for one...(another. Example (11) illustrates the use of other...other.

(1) ... and in the menetyme, with good counsaile and prayer ech help other thitherwarde. (1534, Sir Thomas More 545)

(2) ... and so wel shall lakke no payementes eche in other's necke, God send me monney to discharge all. (1549, Otwell Johnson 1084)

(3) ... the suspicions that were risen betwene bothe the princes in eche one towardes thothers doinges... (1547, William Paget 12)

(4) ... by the love you be are mee that [y.sup.u] [all] agree in perfect love and amity and account every one the others burthen to bee his so may plenty and prosperity dwell. (1613, Nicholas Ferrar 236)

(5) ... where as euery lorde loued other, and none other thing studyed vppon, but aboute the Coronacion and honoure of the king... (E1 More Hist 16)

(6) And therfore they muste be trewe eyther to other. (El Fitzherbert 98)

(7) ... to deserue as muche good wit and affection as euer one prince owed another, wisching all meanes that may maintaine. …

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