chapter  4
Intransitive Verbs Expressing Reciprocity
Pages 24

In this chapter, I will have a closer look at those reciprocal sentences that contain symmetric or prototypically reciprocal verbs. In Chapter 1, I subscribed to the view that functional contrasts between constructionsthe term ‘functional’ here encompassing what is traditionally divided into ‘semantic’ and ‘pragmatic’ aspects-are pertinent to the analysis of grammatical structures. With regard to the realm of reciprocity, this view implies that in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of this domain in English we also have to consider symmetric and prototypically reciprocal verbs from this perspective and describe the factors that are responsible for speakers’ choices between the variable syntactic realizations of these predicates. It should also be kept in mind that, as outlined in Chapter 3, the system of reciprocal constructions in English has undergone changes to the effect that variation of expressive means has been reduced and the surviving constructions have formed a well-organized system of constructions on which meanings, i.e. different construals of reciprocal situations, are mapped. In this way, the present chapter investigates alternations within the domain of reciprocal constructions that are available to symmetric and prototypically reciprocal verbs. Under the reasonable assumption that sentences involving these verbs are not synonymous across different argument realization patterns, we will consider which factors determine the choice between the intransitive and the transitive realization of symmetric and prototypically reciprocal verbs. A more general, but related, issue that we will come across is the notion of symmetry as a property of predicates. We will now begin by looking at the way in which symmetry is usually defi ned in studies on the subject.