[Lingtyp] Differential inalienable marking

Åshild Næss ashildn at gmail.com
Thu Oct 10 07:53:53 UTC 2019

Hi Laura,

Äiwoo (Oceanic) also has a handful of lexically conditioned inflectional
classes for directly possessed nouns. Compare e.g iso 'my mother' - isä
'his/her mother' vs ginou 'my son' - gino 'his/her son'. I'm still sorting
out the details of this, but happy to provide more information if it's of



On Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 8:33 PM ARNOLD Laura <Laura.Arnold at ed.ac.uk> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> I’m investigating a feature that I’m calling ‘differential inalienable
> marking’. Differential inalienable marking is found in some languages with
> a morphosyntactic alienability distinction in adnominal possessive
> constructions. In ‘inalienable’ constructions (i.e., those constructions
> that are more closely associated with expressing inalienable relationships
> between the possessor and possessee, such as body parts and kin terms),
> these languages make a further morphological or morphosyntactic distinction
> – for example, with two distinct paradigms marking the person and number of
> the possessor.
> This distinction may be semantically conditioned – for example, kin terms
> may be marked with one paradigm, body parts another. Below is an example
> from Ambai (Austronesian), in which a 3sg possessor is predictably marked
> on kin terms with the suffix *-na*, and on body parts with *-n*.
> (1) Ambai (Silzer 1983: 88-9)
> (a) ina*-na*
>       mother-3sg
>      ‘his/her mother’
> (b) awe*-n*
>       foot-3sg
>       ‘his/her foot’
> Alternatively, the distinction may be lexically specified. In Kula
> (Timor-Alor-Pantar), the possessor is marked on most body parts and kin
> terms with one paradigm; however, there is a subset of body parts which are
> unpredictably marked with a different paradigm. This is exemplified in (2):
> a 1st person exclusive possessor is marked on the body part *nikwa* ‘eye’
> with the prefix *ng-*, but on the body part *kárik* ‘finger’ with *nge-*.
> (2) Kula (Williams 2017: 226)
> (a) *ng*-nikwa
>       1excl-eye
>       ‘my/our eye’
> (b) *nge-*kárik
>       1excl-finger
>       ‘my/our finger’
> Note that I am *not *counting either phonologically predictable
> allomorphy or free variation as differential inalienable marking.
> This feature is attested in several languages spoken in east Indonesia.
> Has anyone come across differential inalienable marking elsewhere in the
> world? (As you can see from the examples, the distinction may be very
> subtle…)
> With best wishes from Edinburgh,
> Laura
> ~~~
> Laura Arnold
> British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow
> Room 1.13, Dugald Stewart Building
> School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences
> University of Edinburgh
> The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland,
> with registration number SC005336.
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