NP-internal argument

Ron Kuzar kuzar at RESEARCH.HAIFA.AC.IL
Sat Jan 6 18:12:52 UTC 1996

Dear funknetters,

If we define argument structure (I prefer valency) as the determination
by a predicate of the number and type of NPs to participate in the
sentence, we unsurprisingly find that these NPs appear as separate
phrases within the sentence, in positions that are exclusive of one
another (I am trying to use broad terms, not school-specific), so that
one argument would not be part of the phrase of another argument.
However, if we find that in a certain sentence a possessive element is
compulsory, then we have an additional NP - the possessor - inside the NP
being possessed. Take the Hebrew sentence:

aSrei hama'amin
the-happiness-of the-believer

This is a single noun phrase in the construct state with 'aSrei' as
predicate and 'hama'amin' as a single argument.

similar forms are:

tori=my turn; mazali=my luck etc.

It should be noted that unlike the English 'my bad luck' which is an
idiomatic expression/interjection, 'tori' and 'mazali' can be embedded:

lo yadati Setori
not I-knew that-my-turn
'I didn't know it was my turn'

A similar phenomenon exists in Hungarian (excuse lack of diacritics):

van penzem
there-is my-money
'I have money'

The addition of a lexical possessor in emphatic sentences is possible:

nekem van penzem
to-me there-is my-money

but the '-em' of 'penz-' does not disappear, thus 'nekem' is appositional
to the suffix, not the other way around.

There are some traditional treatments of this phenomenon in Hebrew. Does
anybody know of (1) treatment of Hungarian in this spirit; (2) other
languages (and biblio) on 'possessive arguments'; (3) general theoretical
discussion of such issues.

I am new to funknet, not sure about procedures here. Do responses go
straight to the list, or to the person posting the question, to be later
summarized? If the latter is the case I will summarize responses.

Ron Kuzar, Haifa University
kuzar at

More information about the Funknet mailing list