Reflexive pronouns in the Lindisfarne glosses

Elly Van Gelderen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Old English uses personal pronouns, demonstratives, and limited null subject for reference to previously mentioned nouns. It uses personal pronouns reflexively and pronouns modified by 'self ' identical in form with an intensive. This use of a pronoun modified by self has been attributed to British Celtic influence. Other changes in the pronominal system have been attributed to Scandinavian influence, e.g. the introduction of the third person plural pronoun they. This paper looks at the use of the specially marked reflexives in the glosses to the Lindisfarne Gospels, a northern text where both British Celtic and Scandinavian influence may be relevant. It provides lists of all of the self-marked forms and shows, for instance, that Matthew and Mark have reflexives based on an accusative/dative pronoun followed by self and they don't have this form as an intensifier. British Celtic of this period has an intensifier but has no special reflexives and has lost case endings, so the Lindisfarne language is unlike British Celtic. Luke and John have intensives and reflexives, with 'self ' modifying case-marked pronouns, again unlike British Celtic. In addition to contributing to the debate on external origins, the paper adds to the authorship debate by comparing the use of reflexives in the different gospels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-244
Number of pages25
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 10 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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