Possession/modification by simple juxtaposition

Spencer, Andrew J spena at ESSEX.AC.UK
Fri Nov 21 11:02:04 UTC 2008

We are interested in finding languages that express possession and adjectival modification in the same way, namely, by means of pure juxtaposition, without any other morphosyntactic marking (agreement, adpositions, case marking etc.). In other words, we’re looking for languages with the following construction types (head-initial/head-final; the linear order doesn’t matter to us and the language doesn’t have to have a consistent head position):

good book:             book good // good book
the name of (the) boy: name [(the) boy] // (the) boy name
Gwen’s book/mother:    book/mother Gwen// Gwen book/mother

A language which is close to what we’re looking for is Spoken Welsh (head-initial):

good book:
llyfr   da     
book    good   
the name of the boy:
enw   y    bachgen
name  the  boy

the name of a boy:
enw    bachgen
name   boy
Gwen’s book:   llyfr Gwen   
Gwen’s mother: mam Gwen   

However, in Welsh, adjectives take the soft mutation when they modify FEM.SG nouns, so this isn’t a ‘pure’ example of the language type we’re looking for.

If you know of a language with these properties please contact Andrew Spencer: spena at essex.ac.uk.
We’ll put together a synopsis of the replies. (You don’t need to reply to the whole list.)

Andrew Spencer, University of Essex
Irina Nikolaeva, School of Oriental and African Studies

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