On the History of the Reflexive Possessive Pronoun ՙsvoi՚

Summary: 

Against the background of Old Bulgarian literature (both translated and original) the article explores the pronoun construction, made of the reflexive possessive pronoun svoi and the anaphoric pronoun in genetive or dative case (svoi ego, svoi emou, svoi ei, svoi ich, svoi im). The construction operates as a tool to further clarify and enhance the expression of possession in the sentence in the 3rd person, when it is not quite clear whose possession is being referred to. The double pronoun marking is observed both when the reflexive possessive pronoun свои means ‘one’s own, one’s possession’ (i.e. the owner is related to the object of the action) as well as when свои means in possession of the subject of the action. It is argued that the pronoun construction under discussion is not inspired by the Greek language and the Greek prototypes of the translated Old Bulgarian texts. This early literary practice was not common in the centuries to come (13–17th centuries), but was adopted by Patriarch Euthymius as an instrument for archaising the language and as a model for linguistic continuity. The parallel usage of the pronoun свои and the anaphoric pronoun in genetive and dative case resembles the simultaneous usage of relative pronouns with anaphoric and interrogative roots (izhe kyi, izhe kto, ezhe chto and so on) before the Indo-European root *kw was established as the only relative form in the Slavic languages. An additional analogy is provided by the contemporary inconsistent usage of the reflexive possessive pronoun, related to the subject in the 3rd person.

Tatyana Slavova (Sofia, Bulgaria)
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