'Reflexive' and 'impersonal' constructions in medieval English

Michiko Ogura

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In Old and Middle English, 'reflexives' with coreferential pronouns alone and 'reflexives' with self were both used frequently, showing a slight tinge of lexical and contextual restriction. 'Impersonals' with dative/accusative (or genitive, though less frequent) pronouns appeared continuously throughout the medieval period, while personal expressions were sporadically seen in Old English and then 'it V to/for Dat' constructions gradually increased in the number of occurrences. Further investigation should be made from a lexical-structural viewpoint in order to explain why 'reflexives' and 'impersonals' were preferred in Old English and kept in use up to late Middle English. In this paper I reexamine the uses of 'reflexives' (§ 1) and 'impersonals' (§ 2) in Old English, compare these constructions in the West Saxon Gospels with the corresponding constructions in the Later Version of the Wycliffite Bible (§ 3), and try to show that these constructions were the devices a language without a morphological middle voice marker had contrived for itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-556
Number of pages22
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jun
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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