Max Planck Institute
for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Linguistics

Typological tools for field linguistics


Berlin - Utrecht Reciprocals Survey: Marker Inventory & Overview

Questions concerning the symmetry or asymmetry of relations or interactions as well as those concerning the linguistic means of describing them are not only of interest for linguistics, but also for many social sciences, for philosophy (ethics) and even evolutionary biology. Basic ethical principles can be expressed in terms of reciprocity and major aspects of social structure can be described in terms of solving problems of interaction in a symmetric or asymmetric fashion. Despite a large number of studies on reciprocity in individual languages, there is so far, however, no integrated study on the patterns and limits of variation found across languages in this domain. The Berlin/Utrecht Reciprocals Project, which is to be carried out jointly by two European centers of (a)linguistic typology (Berlin) and (b) for the study of pronouns and anaphora (Utrecht), will combine fine-grained analyses on individual languages with large-scale cross-linguistic surveys. It aims at formulating an integrating typology for reciprocal constructions, at developing a web-accessible database for the relevant domain and at deepening our understanding of reciprocity, of the predicates denoting symmetrical relations (reciprocity), of the locality restrictions on the interpretation of reciprocal arguments and of patterns of polysemy associated with reciprocal markers. As a result of this, a new basis for the description of individual languages and for the solution of theoretical issues will be created, which are unsolvable otherwise.

The authors are interested in contacting language experts who would have an interest in completing the reciprocals questionnaire for their language of expertise. If you would like to help out, please contact Alexis Dimitriadis (Project "A typology of reciprocal markers: Analysis and documentation")

The questionnaire
PDF Download (Version: 20 November 2007)
PDF Download (Example questionnaire Futunan)


Developed by
Alexis Dimitriadis