[Lingtyp] differential internal possessors

Francoise Rose Francoise.Rose at univ-lyon2.fr
Thu Jan 11 08:40:28 UTC 2018

Hi all,

Different adnominal possessive constructions related to the so-called « alienable/inalienable » distinction are not necessarily dependent on the lexical class of the possessee. In Amazonian languages, you can find different constructions for:

-the basket that I made vs. the basket that I bought

-my meat (my own flesh) vs. my meat (the flesh of the animal I have killed, or I am eating)

In these cases, the choice of the construction depends neither on the lexical class of the noun nor on the semantics of the possessor (which would call for the term “differential”), but rather on the semantic type of relationship between possessor and possessee.

Still in this case, I agree with Martin that the alternation is not parallel to what is called “differential argument marking” in the predicate domain, because it does not depend on the properties of the possessor.




De : Lingtyp [mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] De la part de Martin Haspelmath
Envoyé : mercredi 10 janvier 2018 21:49
À : lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Objet : Re: [Lingtyp] differential internal possessors


This looks like an interesting workshop, and it is useful to have a new concept of "differential internal possession" (or maybe "differential ad(nominal)possession"? cf. the shortened term "adpossessive construction <https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/zfsw.2017.36.issue-2/zfs-2017-0009/zfs-2017-0009.xml> ", for adnominal possessive construction).

But what exactly falls under this concept?

The notion of "differential argument marking" is generally applied to cases where the marking of an argument type depends on its own properties, rather than on the verb. Thus, differential object marking refers to cases where an object is marked differently depending on its definiteness, or animacy, or pronominality – and NOT when it is marked differently depending on the verb, e.g. dative-marked or adpositionally marked. (The latter situation normally falls under the heading of "valency classes".)

So if differential adpossessor marking is parallel to differential argument marking, it should refer to cases like Nganasan (Wagner-Nagy 2014), where personal pronoun adpossessors take no Genitive (and require possessive indexing on the possessed noun), while full-nominal adpossessors must be in the Genitive (and need not be cross-indexed on the noun).

In some cases, alternative possessive constructions are perhaps best treated as *alternations* (comparable to the English dative alternation), because both constructions are possible with the same nouns under the same grammatical conditions (e.g. German "die Katze meines Vaters / die Katze von meinem Vater" 'my father's cat'), with subtle pragmatic differences.

In many other cases, alternative possessive constructions occur with different classes of nouns (alienable/inalienable) and are thus analogous to valency classes of verbs.

Of course, these three types (1: conditioned by grammatical class of adpossessor / 2: both occur side by side / 3: conditioned by lexical class of possessed noun) are ideal types, and there are intermediate or fuzzy cases, but it would be useful if the terminology were fully parallel in the verbal and nomonal domains.


On 10.01.18 19:15, András Bárány wrote:

2nd Call for Papers, The syntax of Differential Internal Possessors
Workshop at Syntax of the World's Languages 8, 3-5 September 2018,
Inalco, Paris, France
Convenors: Irina Nikolaeva (SOAS), András Bárány (SOAS), Oliver Bond
(Surrey Morphology Group, University of Surrey)
Contact: András Bárány, andras.barany at soas.ac.uk <mailto:andras.barany at soas.ac.uk> 
Deadline: 31 January 2018
Abstract submission: https://swl8.sciencesconf.org/, one A4 page + a
page for examples; please indicate the workshop when submitting your
Full CfP: https://swl8.sciencesconf.org/resource/page/id/7
Many languages have more than one possessive construction in which the
possessor is internal to the same syntactic phrase as the possessum.
This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as Differential Possessor
Marking or Differential Possessor Expression, by analogy with
Differential Argument Marking. Although recent years have seen a growing
interest in the study of Differential Argument Marking, Differential
Possessor Marking is by far less systematically investigated.
Especially little is currently known about the syntactic effects
differential internal possessors may have. This perspective will add a
new dimension to the traditional typological studies of internal
possessive constructions, which have mostly concentrated on the
morphosyntactic encoding of their components or the (relational)
semantics underlying their distribution.
The aim of the workshop is to bring some important issues regarding the
cross-linguistic variation in the syntax of internal possessive
constructions to the attention of the typological community. Without
claiming to encompass the whole range of Differential Possessor Marking
phenomena, the workshop will focus on two partially interrelated
questions that appear to be typologically understudied.
The first one relates to behavioural syntactic properties of
differential internal possessors. For example, in Turkish (Turkic) the
possessor normally bears the genitive case and the possessed noun may
host possessive agreement, although it is not obligatory. Constructions
without agreement require discourse contexts which establish the
possessor as a clearly identifiable referent, so that it cannot be
indefinite or quantified. This indicates a split in the syntactic
behaviour of possessors within the possessive phrase.
Even more striking are cases where an internal possessor exhibits
syntactic effects outside of its own phrase and participates in
syntactic processes which typically target a phrasal head, such as
predicate-argument agreement (e.g. in Maithili, Ngumpin-Yapa, Chimane)
or switch-reference (Turkic, Aleut, Tundra Nenets, California Uto-Aztecan).
Second, the workshop will focus on functional factors determining
differential expression of internal possessors in their relationship to
syntax. The alternative possessive constructions are usually specialized
on the expression of possessive relations of a different semantic
nature, as is observed in languages with possessive classifiers or an
alienability opposition, or they reflect a split in the lexicon and the
inherent semantic properties of the possessor (e.g. lexical vs.
pronominal possessors).
This workshop aims to bring some important issues regarding the
cross-linguistic variation in the syntax of internal possessive
to the attention of the typological community. We are looking forward to
submissions covering the following topics:
- Syntactic behaviour of differential possessors within the possessive
- Grammatical interaction between internal possessors and a larger
syntactic domain
- Discourse factors that affect the choice between alternative internal
possessive constructions within one language to what extent the factors
that determine differential coding of internal possessors are analogous
to DAM?
- Recurrent cross-linguistic patterns and parameters of variation in
discourse-conditioned differential internal possessors
- Correlations between functional properties and syntactic prominence of
internal possessors
Anonymous abstracts for the general session and posters should be no
longer than one page A4 (normal margins of 2,5 cm on each side, single
spaced lines, Times New Roman, Doulos SIL or DejaVu font, 12 pt font
size), with the possibility of using an additional page for examples,
and should be written in English, with fully glossed examples conforming
to the Leipzig Glossing Conventions. Please romanise all Asian texts,
and do not use Asian character fonts unless absolutely required.
Participants may not be involved in more than two abstracts for the
general session, of which at most one may be single-authored.
Please submit abstracts through the SWL8 website:
https://swl8.sciencesconf.org/ by *31 January 2018*

Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de <mailto:haspelmath at shh.mpg.de> )
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10  
D-07745 Jena  
Leipzig University 
IPF 141199
Nikolaistrasse 6-10
D-04109 Leipzig    
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