[Lingtyp] Questions on possessives

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Mon Sep 11 10:03:28 UTC 2017


I believe most colloquial varieties of Malay/Indonesian have both 
possibilities ...  Though note that Malay/Indonesian NP-internal order 
is head initial, so the orders are mirror-image to those in English.

With regard to your first question:

(1) /kaki kucing (yang) kecil/
leg cat (REL) small

can have either interpretation (small leg or small cat).

With regard to your second question:  There are various constructions of 
different types that correspond to varying degrees to the English 
determiner /the/, but yes, it is possible for determiner-like forms to 
be associated with the possessor and with the entire NP, for example:

(2) /kaki kucing=nya (yang) itu

The enclitic /=nya/ is an erstwhile 3rd person possessive marker that 
has become reanalyzed as something more like a determiner.  To the 
extent that there are criteria for "full NP's" in Malay/Indonesian, the 
possessor /kucing=nya/ in (2) above would be one such NP.


On 10/09/2017 23:17, Elizabeth K Nielsen wrote:
> Hello,
> I'm currently working on extending the LinGO Grammar Matrix, which is 
> a system that allows linguists to jumpstart the creation of an 
> implemented HPSG grammar through a questionnaire interface (see Bender 
> et al. 2010 <http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1969044>). I’m working 
> on extending the Grammar Matrix to cover adnominal possession. A 
> couple of the analyses I’m working with right now would have 
> typological implications which I’d appreciate input on.
> First are cases of possession expressed via simple juxtaposition, 
> without any possessive morphemes, e.g.:
>        cat paw
>        'cat’s paw’
> The analysis for this construction that I'm currently using would 
> preclude constructions such as the following, where you can put a 
> modifier on the left edge and have it interpreted as the modifier of 
> the possessum:
>     little cat paw
>     'cat’s little paw’ (rather than ‘the paw of the little cat”)
> Does anyone know of a language where these constructions do occur?
> Second, I have developed a working analysis for languages like Italian 
> that have possessive modifiers -- constructions where a possessed noun 
> can appear with both a possessor and a determiner:
>        la mia casa
>        the my house
>        ‘my house’
> My current analysis for possessive modifiers would allow the possessor 
> noun to be a full NP, including determiners, etc. For example, using 
> English lexical items to demonstrate, my current analysis would allow 
> sentences like the following:
>        the [the cat-GEN] paw
>        ‘the cat’s paw’
> Are there in fact examples of languages with possessive modifiers that 
> allow comparable constructions? Or are possessive modifiers in such 
> languages not full NPs?
> Many thanks,
> Elizabeth Nielsen
> University of Washington
> MS in Computational Linguistics
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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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