[Lingtyp] query: possessives and animacy

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Thu Feb 2 07:08:45 EST 2017


Grev,

Why am I not surprised that you would come through with the perfect 
response.  (And I'm gratified to see that this is actually a new and 
ongoing project, and not something old hat that I should have known 
about already!)

The project description lists two syntactic properties providing 
evidence for prominent possessors, verbal agreement and switch-reference 
marking.  In the case that I am working on, in Papuan Malay, there are 
(at least) two other such properties: availability for promotion to 
subject in a periphrastic passive construction, and the actual marking 
of the NP itself as animate or inanimate.

Best,

David


On 02/02/2017 20:42, g.corbett at surrey.ac.uk wrote:
> Dear David,
>
> Instances where the possessor “takes over" and determines the 
> properties of the whole NP have been termed “prominent possessors”. 
> See this site for a project on the subject, led by Irina Nikolaeva 
> (https://www.soas.ac.uk/linguistics/prominent-possessors/)
>
> Very best
> Grev
>
> Greville G. Corbett
>
> Surrey Morphology Group
> English (I1)
> Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
> University of Surrey
> Guildford
> Surrey, GU2 7XH
> Great Britain
> email: g.corbett at surrey.ac.uk <mailto:g.corbett at surrey.ac.uk>
> www.smg.surrey.ac.uk <http://www.smg.surrey.ac.uk>
>
>
> /Features/
> Available now through all good bookshops,
> or direct from Cambridge University Press at: 
> www.cambridge.org/9781107661080
> <http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/languages-linguistics/grammar-and-syntax/features>/
> /
> /Canonical Morphology and Syntax./ Also available through all 
> good bookshops, or direct from Oxford University Press at: 
> http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199604326.do
>
>
>> On 2 Feb 2017, at 10:52, David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de 
>> <mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>> wrote:
>>
>> 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.
>>
>> Thanks,
>>
>> David
>>
>> -- 
>> 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 <mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>
>> Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
>> Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816
>>
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>>

-- 
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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