Possession/modification by simple juxtaposition

Ulrike Zeshan uzeshan at UCLAN.AC.UK
Fri Nov 21 11:31:02 UTC 2008

Hi, most sign languages work this way. In our recent cross-linguistic
study (data from 28 sign languages), we found that most sign languages
allow the juxtaposition construction for possession, and in many cases,
this is the only possibility, though a number of sign languages also
have additional marking that can appear (under varying restrictions). 

For details (incl. overview chapter and studies on 10 diverse sign
languages) see:

Perniss, Pamela & Ulrike Zeshan (eds.): Possessive and existential
constructions in sign languages. Sign Language Typology Series No. 2.
Nijmegen: Ishara Press.

Adjectival modification in all sign languages I have seen is always by
juxtaposition, but I have not checked whether word order patterns are
parallel in both these constructions.


Prof. Ulrike Zeshan
Director, International Centre for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Livesey House, LH212
University of Central Lancashire
Preston PR12HE, UK
uzeshan at uclan.ac.uk
Ph. +44-1772-893104

>>> "Spencer, Andrew J" <spena at ESSEX.AC.UK> 21/11/08 11:02 AM >>>
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

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

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list