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External possession and constructions that may have it

Ilja A. Seržant

Abstract

There seems to be no construction that would code specifically the possession relation of external possessors. Instead, various host constructions such as the free-affectee construction (a subtype of which is the free-dative construction), monotransitive or applicative construction can – to a different degree – accommodate participants that are bound by a possession relation. The binding procedure identifying the possessor operates at the pragmatic-semantic interface and takes into account the semantic roles of the event participants, their discourse saliency and lexical properties (such as animacy), world knowledge, properties of the possessum (such as the degree of (in)alienability), etc. The external-possession relation and the meaning of the hosting construction are orthogonal to each other, but there is a strong interplay between them. Positing a dedicated external-possessor construction faces the following problems: the same binding procedure is found in other constructions as well (such as the monotransitive or ditransitive constructions); at the same time, the very possession relation is only inconsistently found in constructions referred to as external-possessor constructions, and, what is more, the possession relation may sometimes be canceled (even if it is inalienable). To account for this terminologically, I introduce the term non-thematic affectee construction, a subtype of which is the free (non-thematic) affectee construction particularly spread in European languages. The latter is found with different types of coding (accusative, dative, different prepositional phrases) which have different diachronic sources.

Abbreviations

abl

ablative

abs

absolutive

acc

accusative

ades

adessive

adj

adjective

aor

aorist

appl

applicative

aux

auxiliary

cnvb

converb

dat

dative

def

definite article

det

determiner

el

elative

EPC

external-possessor construction

erg

ergative

f

feminine

fut

future

gen

genitive

ie

Indo-European

impv

imperative

ins

instrumental

m

masculine

n

neuter

neg

negation

nom

nominative

NP

nominal phrase

obl

oblique

p

person

part

partitive

pl

plural

poss

possessive

PP

prepositional phrase

pp

past (active) participle

ppp

past passive participle

prt

particle

prs

present

pst

past

refl

reflexive

sg

singular

top

topic

Acknowledgements

I thank the editor Gabriele Diewald and the external reviewer for their extensive and highly valuable and helpful discussions that improved the paper considerably. All disclaimers apply.

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