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368                 The Loom of Language
The reflexive pronoun may give the veib a new meaning In French
je doute qu'il vienne means I doubt whether he will come., and je mien
doute means I think so
The Latin reflexive se of the third person is common to Portuguese,
Spanish, and French The unstressed Italian reflexive is si, stressed sŁ
The Portuguese reflexive follows the verb like an ordinary Portuguese
pronoun object,e g levanto-me (I get up) The Spanish se does two jobs
When the direct and indirect object are both of the third person, a
Spaniard uses se for the indirect object (le, les\ or for the unstressed
dative form, eg se lo digo (I tell it to him = I say so to him)
Possessive pronouns and adjectives (p 115) of modern Latin dialects
are descendants of the old Latin forms meus (my), tuus (thy), suus (his.,
her., its, their) or of illonim (of those), and noster, vaster (our, your)
French and Italian derive the possessive of the third person plural from
the Latin genitive illonim (French leur, Italian low*), Spanish and
Portuguese from the reflexive Mats Like English, Spanish and French
have two sets of possessives (cf my-mme), contracted (possessive adjec-
tives), which accompany a noun, and fuller ones (possessive pronouns)
which stand alone For an English-speaking student of the Romance
langu?ges the chief difficulty about possessives is mastery of the gender-
forms Our single surviving trace of possessive concord involved in the
choice between his-tts-her refers solely to the possessor Neither the
grammatical gender nor the sex of the possessor shows up in the form
of the Romance possessive adjective or pronoun In French
son pere         —    his or her father
sa mere          —    his or her mother
ses parents     =    his or her parents
Thus the gender form of the Romance pronoun depends on the
thing or person possessed The masculine singular French forms mony
ton, son, replace ma, ta, sa before a feminine noun beginning with a
vowel (or A), e g mon amie (my girl-friend) and mon ami (my boy-
friend) Unlike the unstressed invariant dative leur, the possessive leur
has a plural (lews'), e g leur maison—leurs rnaisons = their house(s)
The Spanish su does the job of his, her., its, their, or your in any context
unless ambiguity might arise, and countless ambiguities can anse from
this type of concord If the Spaniard wishes to make it clear that su
casa stands for his house, he says su casa de el, in contradistinction to su
casa de ella (her house) or su casa de ellos (their house). Similarly the
Frenchman may say son pere a Im (his father) or son pere a elle