Language and Cognition Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
 by Olivier le Guen

Reciprocal Constructions and Situation Type

Expressions like ‘John and Mary embraced (each other)’ represent complex situations where symmetry entails that each participant plays each of the two semantic roles (John embraced Mary, and Mary embraced John). Reciprocal constructions are specialised for the description of such symmetric situation types. The goal of this task is to investigate how a range of reciprocal and reciprocal-like events are, and can be, described across a range of languages, in order to determine, for each language, how far reciprocal-coding constructions extend out to various conditions which relax one or more characteristics that canonically call for reciprocal encoding – symmetry, simultaneity, and two participants.


This Field Manual entry, and the accompanying stimulus materials, can be downloaded from the MPG Publication Repository:

How to cite this resource?

Evans, N., Levinson, S. C., Enfield, N. J., Gaby, A., & Majid, A. (2004). Reciprocal constructions and situation type. In A. Majid (Ed.), Field Manual Volume 9 (pp. 25-30). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. doi:10.17617/2.506955.

Volume 2004 , filed under Event Representation.