[Lingtyp] evolution of inalienable possession NP

Marcel Erdal merdal4 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 11 21:49:53 UTC 2021

Dear Sergey,
Modern Hebrew has all three constructions which you mention for Assyrian,
the synthetic construction here as well being mostly reserved for
inalienable possession.
Best, Marcel Erdal

Am Fr., 11. Juni 2021 um 20:51 Uhr schrieb Sergey Loesov <
sergeloesov at gmail.com>:

> Dear colleagues,
> I wonder if somebody has studied the *evolution* of NPs encoding
> “inalienable possession” in the world’s languages.
> The question is related to my inquiry into the history of the Assyrian
> language, a now extinct East Semitic variety.
> The Old Assyrian languge (roughly, 19 century BC) had a *synthetic* NP
> construction with kinship terms and body parts as heads (“inalienable
> possession”): *a**χ**u* N “N’s brother”.
> The *analytical* construction was used with most other heads, here the
> dependent substantive is governed by the preposition *ʃa: alpu ʃa *N “the
> ox of N”.
> My internal reconstruction shows that the synthetic possessive NP with
> “inalienable” head is a retention, since once an ancestor of Assyrian had
> no analytical construction at all, and no preposition *ʃa*.
> Starting from this, I would assume that in *Neo-Assyrian* (roughly  the 8
> th century BC)  the analytical *ʃa*-construction was going to oust
> completely the “inalienable” one: *a**χ**u* *ʃa* N “the brother of N” ~  *alpu
> ʃa *N “the ox of N”.
> But actually “inalienable” heads, rather than lose their specific
> syntactic feature,  developed a brand-new NP construction, with an
> obligatorily anticipatory pronoun:  *a**χ**u-**ʃu* *ʃa* N lit. “brother-
> *his* of N” vs. *alpu ʃa *N “the ox of N”.
> Are you aware of similar developments elsewhere?
> Best wishes,
> Sergey
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