On the grammatical uses of the HEAD in Wolof: from reflexivity to intensifying uses

Abstract : In Wolof (Atlantic, Niger-Congo), the grammatical uses of the word for HEAD (bopp) with a possessive modifier range from direct and indirect reflexive pronoun to adnominal intensifier through an intermediary genitival reflexive. This study analyzes the semantic continuity between those different uses, and the various ways they are conditioned by their contexts. With direct and indirect (or oblique) reflexives, the reflexive anaphora has scope over two different semantic roles (agent vs. patient or beneficiary) of the same referent. Being restrictively used for typically other-directed processes, those reflexive constructions imply that alternative (more expected) agents are discarded, producing an emphasis on self-affectedness or self-benefit. This 'centering' effect on the actual participant is even clearer with the genitive reflexive and the adnominal intensifier due to their adnominal function. In those constructions, the reflexive anaphora creates a re-identification of the referent in the same role, producing an intensive effect by centering on the identity of the referent, discarding again alternative participants. Altogether, the various reflexive constructions in Wolof, emphasizing the agentivity, responsibility or identity of the referent, point to a metonymical use of the HEAD for the PERSON or INDIVIDUAL, which is in accordance with its various lexical uses.
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Stéphane Robert. On the grammatical uses of the HEAD in Wolof: from reflexivity to intensifying uses. Iwona Kraska-Szlenk. Body Part Terms in Conceptualization and Language Usage, 12, John Benjamins, pp.133-167, In press, Cognitive Linguistic Studies in Cultural Contexts, 978 90 272 0480 6. ⟨hal-01961303⟩

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