Self Intensification and Focus Interpretation


  • Kjell Johan Sæbø University of Oslo



Standardly (Safir, 2004), the “complex reflexive'' SIG+SELF in Dutch or Scandinavian is treated as a special species of anaphora, stronger than SIG alone. This approach has a number of disadvantages, descriptive and theoretical. Theoretically, it is desirable to treat SELF the same as when it modifies another element. Bergeton (2004) argues that a uniform analysis of SELF as an intensifier is feasible and that the descriptive shortcomings of standard treatments can be overcome if intensification is severed from binding (SIG). However, his account is incomplete in a few regards. Building on a formal theory of focus (Rooth, 1992), I show that the distribution of simple and complex reflexives -- almost complementary in Dutch and Scandinavian, freer in German -- can be more fully explained on the basis of a theory of intensification (Eckardt, 2001) supplemented by Bidirectional OT (Blutner, 1998-06).