Reciprocal markers survey: an inventory & an overview

Author : Alexis Dimitriadis

Publication date : 2007

Questionnaire URL :

Bibliographical references :
Dimitriadis, Alexis. 2007. Berlin – Utrecht Reciprocals Survey: Marker Inventory & Overview. (Version: 20 November 2007).


This questionnaire "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.'' (From the Typological tools for field linguistics website,

Protocol summary

This questionnaire is divided into two parts : the inventory of reciprocal markers (part 1), and the overview of the reciprocal markers (part 2). It is intended as a guideline for the linguist who is investigating reciprocal markers within a language.

Part 1 : It gathers a list of English sentences to be translated into the target language, in order to identify reciprocal markers (which are "any grammaticalised, i.e., conventionalized, means of expressing reciprocity) (Dimitriadis, 2007 : 3).

Part 2 : this is about analysing the identified markers according the questions/parameters given by the authors. The linguist has to answer these questions, which are split into categories (morphology, syntax and argument structure, selection and semantic/syntactic classes, polysemy classes and discontinuous reciprocals). 

Development context

''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".
(From the Typological tools for field linguistics website,​)

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