Possessive strategies vs. possessor pronouns

As used in the adnominal possession customization page, the terms possessive strategy and possessor pronoun refer to different phenomena, though the delineation between the two is not always clear, given the overlap between the two. Here are some examples of phenomena in various languages, with the best analysis (possessive strategy or possessor pronoun) indicated.

Examples of possessive strategies:

Case 1: Neither argument may be a pronoun:

English ('s-possessive)

the

cat's

paw

*I's

paw

Case 2: The possessor can be a pronoun, but the pronoun is not distinct from non-possessive pronouns:

Japanese (possessor marked by a clitic)

sensee

no

hon

teacher

POSS

book

‘the teacher's book’

watashi

no

ofisu

1SG

POSS

office

‘my office’

[Nazikian, F., Hudson, M. (2014). Modern Japanese Grammar. London: Routledge.]

Fijian (possessum marked by adposition; possessor unmarked)a

a

mata-i

Jone

a

eye-POSS

John

‘John’s eye’

a

liga-i

‘eirau

art

hand-POSS

1DU.EXCL

‘our hand(s)’

[Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin (eds.) 2013. The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (Available online at http://wals.info, Accessed on 2018-02-14.) ]

Examples of possessor pronouns:

Case 1: The possessor pronoun is entirely different from non-possessive pronouns:

English

my

hat

1SG.POSS

hat

‘my hat’

Case 2: The possessor pronoun is an affix on the possessum:

Hungarian:

a

kalap-unk

the

hat-1PL.POSS

‘our hat’

[Szabolcsi, Anna. 1994. The noun phrase. In The Syntactic Structure of Hungarian, ed. by Kiefer and Kiss. pp. 179-275. Academic Press.]

Case 3: The possessor pronoun can be analyzed as pronoun+possessive affix. NOTE: though it might be more sensible to call this a possessive strategy, currently, these cases are analyzed as single, atomic possessive pronouns, with no internal morphology.

On the specifier/modifier distinction:

Specifier-like possessors. In some strategies, the possessor takes the place that one would expect a specifier (such as a determiner) to take. English is a good example of this phenomenon:

Pat's book *the Pat's book

The possessum, book, cannot take a determiner, because the specifier role is being filled by the possessor Pat's.

Specifier-like possessors are also characterize by a word order wherein modifiers of the possessum appear between the possessor and the possessum:

Pat's blue book *blue Pat's book (where the book is the thing that is blue)

Modifier-like possessors. In some strategies the possessor functions more like a modifier of the possessum. Ancient Greek is an example of this kind of language. As seen below, the possessum can take an article irrespective of whether or not the possessor appears:

he:

toû

patros

oikia

the.F.SG.NOM

the.M.SG.GEN

father(M).SG.GEN

house(F)Sg.NOM

'the father's house' [gre]

Modifier-like possessors are also able to appear in varying orders relative to other modifiers.

NB: if you don't have data that suggests one analysis over another, the specifier-like analysis is a recommended default.

The specifier/modifier distinction in possessor pronouns:

Like full NP possessors, possessor pronouns can also act either like specifiers or modifiers.

MatrixDoc/AdnominalPossession (last edited 2018-02-15 21:42:39 by ElizabethNielsen)

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