[Lingtyp] query: possessives and animacy

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Thu Feb 2 05:52:56 EST 2017

Dear all,

Is anybody familiar with languages in which:

(1) NPs exhibit different properties (coding, syntactic behaviour, or 
whatever) depending on whether they're animate or inanimate; and

(2) If an NPs consists of possessor and possessed nouns, where the 
possessor is animate and the possessed is inanimate, such NPs are 
treated as animate, even though the inanimate possessed noun is 
otherwise the head of the NP.  (For example, in such a language, "John's 
book" would be considered animate.)

I am currently working on such a case, and am wondering how commonplace 
this is, and whether analyses have already been proposed for similar 
patterns in other languages.  (I have a vague recollection of having 
encountered something similar in the past, but can't quite place it.)  
In principle one could imagine analogous mismatches for features other 
than animacy.



David Gil

Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany

Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816

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