Stern’s Columbia School Theory contribution on English self-pronouns provides a wonderful illustration of the explanatory power of an approach that refuses to be taken in by a priori grammatical categories like reflexivity, which have the unfortunate consequence of giving the analyst the impression that he or she already knows all about the semantics of the form under study before looking at real usage, and attempts rather to uncover the semantic content of the linguistic sign -self based on careful observation and deep reflection on what might explain the way this sign is used in English. Stern shows that a purely syntactic account is unable to account for the fact that self-pronouns occur not only in syntactically reflexive environments, but also in non-reflexive ones, and conversely that simple pronouns also appear in both types of contexts. A faint glimmer of the structuralist origins of Columbia School Theory shows through in one case however.
Stern, N. (2022), "Reflexivity, Role Conflicts, and The Meaning Of English Self Pronouns", Manuscrito, v. 45, n. 1, 90-116.
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