[Lingtyp] query: possessives and animacy

Alan Rumsey Alan.Rumsey at anu.edu.au
Thu Feb 2 12:19:17 EST 2017

In some languages ergative case marking is found only on inanimate nouns. Examples include Hittite (Laroche 1962) and the Australian language Mangarrayi (Merlan (1982: 56-57)).


Laroche, E., 1962. Un 'ergatif' en ie. d'Asie Mineure. Bulletin de la société de linguistique de Paris
57, 23-43.

Merlan, F., 1982. Mangarayi. (Lingua Descriptive Series, 5.) Amsterdam: North-Holland


On 2/02/2017 9:52 pm, "Lingtyp on behalf of David Gil" <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org on behalf of 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.
    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
    Lingtyp mailing list
    Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list